written by ILya Koshkin, July, 2017
Docter V6 2-12×50 Riflescope
Up until recently I mostly regarded Docter as one of those obscure German brands that predominantly play in Europe and do not do much in the US. In principle, that is still accurate. Docter does not have a very large presence in the US and, honestly, that is a bit of a shame. Docter definitely has more of a name recognition that brands like Nickel AG and Kaps, and that is largely due to their miniature red dot sights. I do not know if they had the first tiny reflex sight (they market it as DocterSight), but it was definitely among the first to the point that several times I heard people refer to their “Docter”, when the actual reflex sight they had was from a different manufacturer. I own and use DocterSight III consider it excellent. Since I liked it so much, I decided to take a look at Docter’s other products.
Docter’s conventional riflescopes and binoculars are not terribly well known in the US although they have been around for a while. I have seen some of their riflescopes about fifteen years ago and was sorta ambivalent about. Docter has made some improvements since then, so I dug through their catalog and decided to take a look at the V6 2-12×50 riflescope.
There are a few scopes that compete in the same general $1500 range with the most obviou direct competition being Meopta Meostar R2 2-12×50. Unfortunately, I did not have the Meopta immediately available to me, so I made do with what I had. In the table below, I list the scopes I had on hand in bold. I was also looking at the Leupold VX-6 HD 3-18×44 at the same time, so I looked at them side by side while I was at it. In terms of price and target audience, Kahles is also a fairly direct competition, although the one I have is a 1” model no longer imported to the States. It is, however, still available elsewhere as Helia 3. The two Leica scopes showed up at about the same time as Docter and sorta gave me the means to bracket the V6 with more expensive and less expensive models. Before I get lynched, I do not expect the V6 to compete with the Magnus that runs an extra grand and, indeed, the Magnus blows every other scope here away in terms of performance. However, once you get past a grand or so price-wise, you start getting into the world of diminishing returns and the V6 held its own well enough.
|Docter V6 2-12×50||Kahles KXi 3.5-10×50||Leica ER5 2-10×50||Leica Magnus
1.8 – 12×50
|Meopta MeoStar R2 2-12×50|
|Main Tube Diameter||30mm||1”||30mm||30mm||30mm|
|Eye Relief, in||3.6||3.54||3.8||>3.5||3.75”|
|FOV, ft@1000yards||56 – 9
10.8 @ 10x
|33.6 – 12||54.25 – 10.75
10.75 @ 10x
|67.5 – 11
13.2 @ 10x
|55.8 – 9.6
11.52 @ 10x
|Exit Pupil, mm||11.1 – 4.3||14 – 4.7||16 – 5||12.4 – 4.2||11.2 – 4.3|
|Click Value||0.1 mrad||0.25 MOA||0.25 MOA||0.1 mrad||0.25”|
|Adjustment range||E: 26 mrad W: 16 mrad||48 MOA||100 MOA||~ 51 MOA||70MOA|
|Parallax||100m||100m||50yds – inf||100m||100m|
Looking at the table above, the V6 seems to be spec’ed out in line with the competition. 6x erector ratios that were very new just a few years ago are now fairly common, although to get a very wide field of view with a high erector ratio, you are still looking at a hefty price tag along the lines of the Leica Magnus. Lastly, another direct competitor that I did not list is Minox ZEi 2-10×50. By all accounts, it is a very nice riflescope, but have not had any hands on time with it beyond seeing it at SHOT. Hence, I am not very comfortable talking about it.
Compared to its closest competitor, the Meopta, the specifications of the V6 are very similar and are largely commensurate with the price tag. One interesting to note is that the similarly priced Kahles offers a fair bit more FOV, but only has a 3x erector ratio. Now, Kahles is sorta known for wide FOV scopes, but generally, if you are looking for wide field of view on a budget, high erector ratio scopes may not be your thing.
I did most of the testing of the V6 on my Tikka M695 in 280Rem. It is a hunting scope and I thought the right way to test it would be on a hunting rifle:
The rifle is freakishly accurate with just about any ammo I throw at it, so it makes for a decent test platform. I mounted the scope using high Warne rings that clamp directly onto the dovetail machined into the receiver. That left a reasonable amount of space between the objective bell and the barrel, so I could slip a cover onto the scope, but not much more than that.
The shape of the objective bell is sorta unique with a machined step instead of a smooth transition like we see on most scope. I am not sure whether it is simply a cosmetic feature of if there is technical reason for it. My best guess is that they did it this way to maximize the available mounting length. The turrets are covered and the scope is really designed to be used in a “set and forget” mode, where you only use the turrets to sight in and never touch them afterwards. However, I sorta ignored that and spent a fair amount of time ‘touching” the turrets, which turned out to have a good feel and reasonable repeatability. I did not do an exhaustive tracking test, but based on what I have seen so far I would not hesitate to dial a shot in. The turrets, once you get the covers off, are easy to grab and have a nice tactile feel:
Once the scope is zeroed the turrets are re-settable and, honestly, if I were Docter, I would consider coming out with a version of the scope that has a covered windage turret and an exposed adjustable elevation turret. They already have the feel worked out, so it wouldn’t be too difficult.
The parallax setting on this scope is fixed at 100m and the setting looks to be accurate. I experimented with parallax at different distances and it never got too egregious. Still, without parallax adjustment, this is not intended to be a long range precision scope. That having been said, I did not have a whole lot of difficulty hitting metal plates of varying sizes (12”, 18” and 24”, I think) out to 600 yards. At 12x, once you get far from the preset focus distance, the image fidelity does suffer a little, so, somewhat oddly, when shooting past 400 yards, I dialed it back to around 9x or so. I would be able to make the same shots at 12x, but greater depth of field at lower magnification made the picture more pleasing.
As far as getting behind the scope goes, I think that is one of the strengths of this design. The eye relief is fairly forgiving and there is good latitude for eye placement behind the scope even at the highest magnification. It was not as good as the Magnus and a little worse than the Kahles, but better than ER5. If my recollection of the Meopta R2 is accurate, Docter is a touch better in that regard, but it is difficult to say without a side-by-side.
Bottom line is that I found the V6 to be a very user friendly design. Part of that user friendliness is the illumination control which is extremely well executed. Like many recent designs I have seen, there are two setting you can maintain, one for low light and another for bright light. The illumination turret is one when you pull it outward a little from the scope body and from there you can flick it either up or down to choose either low light or bright light setting. Both setting, naturally, are easily adjustable, so you can finetune your preference. The dynamic range of the available settings is extremely large and it works beautifully both in very low light and the middle of a sunny day. The illumination technology, best I can tell, comes from the same Swiss company that a bunch of high end scopes use (Swarovski Z6, etc). Incidentally, that is the same illumination technology that is used in Meopta Meost R2, so in that regard they are more or less equal.
The reticle itself is a fairly simple wide #4 pattern with a small floating dot in the center. That dot is the only part of the reticle that is illuminated (as it should be on a hunting scope). The reticle itself is fairly thin, so without illumination, it does not do all that well in low light. Here is what it looks like at high magnification (I do not recall if this was 12x or something a little lower):
Ignore the greyed out portion of the reticle, it is an artefact of taking a picture with a cellphone. In actual use, all the reticle stadia stayed perfectly black. The target is 100 yards away.
On low magnification, you can easily see the barrel in the lower portion of the image, but I did not find it terribly distracting:
Thick outer bars are quite visible as the light fades, but thin center lines disappear quickly and the thick bars are spaced to widely to help with aiming (in that regard, I think Meopta’s somewhat similar but bolder 4c reticle works a little better).
Since I was curious how well the reticle illumination works, I did some speed drills at 2x and it worked very nicely. I suspect, that the 1-6×24 version of the V6, which uses the same illumination is very fast on 1x. If Docter was interested in making an optic to address the burgeoning AR-15 market, the V6 could be a very nice foundation for it.
As is, all the reticle options they have are really aimed at the European hunting market. The center dot in the 2-12×50 subtends around half inch at 100 yards, so it makes for a fairly fine aiming point.
As far as overall optical quality goes, I liked the V6 quite a bit. Like many traditional Euro optics, Docter really seems to emphasize low light performance, kinda like Kahles has historically done. In that regard, there are some similarities between the Kahles KXi and Docter V6. While both are quite good in low light, they do not stand out quite as much as you would expect. However, when the light gets low, they really come alive. During the day the V6 performed very nicely, but I do not think it incorporates any ED glass in the design and while it is very nicely optimized, there is some chromatic aberration at 12x that is pretty easy to see on high contrast objects (yellow and purple fringing is what I saw). I could see two colors of CA and while they are not terribly prominent, they are there. Since this is a fixed parallax design, it is entirely possible to see CA when you are far away from the parallax free distance. I went and carefully examined how CA shows up at different target distances and made sure I examine it carefully where the parallax error was minimized (turned out to be right around 120 yards). At that distance, there was very little CA while my eye was on axis, but any slight movement off axis would result in colored fringing. I do not think that is a particularly major problem, but in this price range, most of the competition has better CA control (Leupold VX-6 HD and Meopta Meostar R2 come to mind). Color balance of the image is fairly neutral and colors looked true. Contrast is very acceptable during the day and is downright excellent at night. In other words, this is a very good low light scope. What really helps it in low light is excellent flare and stray light control.
I mounted several scopes including the V6 on my tripod fixture and spent a lot of time looking at them side by side:
From left to right, the scopes are: Kahles KXi 3.5-10×50, Docter V6 2-12×50, Leica Magnus 1.8-12×50, Leupold VX-6 HD 3-18×44, Leica ER5 2-10×50. All the way on the right is the new HiLux Phenom 5-30×56 which was not a part of this comparison, but was already sitting there from something I was doing earlier (pretty decent scope, by the way).
In a direct comparison, as I expected, Leica Magnus blew everything else a way, as it should, being a LOT more expensive. In terms of basic image quality, Kahles and Docter were the closest, with Kahles being a touch better in low light, largely owing to its larger field of view. The difference is small though and Docter compensates for that by a much broader magnification range and a more sophisticated reticle illumination control.
Compared to the less expensive ER5, V6 was comparable in daylight and a touch better in low light. Here, ER5 is helped by its adjustable parallax. Side by side at 10x, while V6 seemed to have a bit more contrast, the ER5 had less color fringing and similar resolution. ER5 does not have reticle illumination, which is probably one of the reasons it costs less. Still, the optical quality you can get for around #1k is getting pretty impressive.
One of the more interesting comparisons was with Leupold VX-6HD 3-18×44. It is not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, since the Leupold has a 44mm objective. However, with street price of around $1600, both 3-18×44 and 3-18×50 version of Leupold VX-6 HD compete in this market segment. Honestly, during daylight, I thought the VX-6HD was generally equal to the Docter, except with better CA control. Leupold is obviously intended for a broader range of shooting distances (due parallax adjustment and more sophisticated reticle options). In low light, V6 had a bit of an edge (I took care to do this comparison at lower magnifications where I could equalize exit pupils), but the Leupold was no slouch and it’s wider FOV helped.
Finally, the question I always have to ask myself is whether this is the scope I would recommend to others, and whether I would recommend it over the competition. That is not a simple question to answer. I liked the scope quite a bit and thought it was a very good general purpose hunting scope. 2-12×50 is a very versatile configuration. The eyepiece is very easy to get behind. Illumination design is excellent. Mechanical quality in my experience has been excellent. There was no POI shift I could see across the entire magnification range. All SFP scopes have it to a certain degree, but it was small enough to where I could not detect it while shooting (I measured it on the collimator in the lab and it is indeed very small).
There is nothing really wrong with the scope, and it is fundamentally a very solid design. However, to make onto a list of recommendations I maintain, it needs to be updated a little and the most important part of that is the reticle. There is nothing wrong with the #4, but it is too wide, in my opinion. And I would really like to see additional reticle options become available. Reticle development has been a pretty big deal in the last few years and that is where Docter seems to lag behind the times a little. If they offer additional reticles and correct CA a little better, this becomes an easy pick.