October 19, 2017.
I popped the safe open to do an inventory of sorts of the stuff I have on hand that still needs to be written up.
This somehow creeped up on me, but there is a lot of stuff in there. I will stop accepting new review items for a bit, until I clear this out.
Here is a rundown with some brief comments, in no particular order.
1) Leupold VX-6HD 3-18×44. I am basically done with this one. I like VX-6HD a lot and if Leupold made a version of this scope with FFP reticle and mrad adjustments for similar money, I would own at least two or three. It tracked true, the low profile turret had a good feel and optical quality is commensurate with the price.
2) Leica Magnus 1.8-12×50. This is the best general purpose hunting scope I have ever tested, bar none. Swaro Z8 is in the same league, I think, and both are really expensive. Zeiss V8 is in the same price range, but from a cursory look, Leica and Swaro are better. Anyway, the image of the Magnus really agrees with me. FOV is superb. Ballistic turret is accurate and the reticle illumination is world class. The reticle is mrad delineated, so I do not have to learn new BDC dimensions. If you want a hunting scope with no compromises, this it. It is sitting on my Tikka M695 in a McMillan stock. I took it out to 600 yards with zero issues. I’ll take it out to 1k next.
3) Leica ER5 2-10×50. Optomechanical quality seems very good. I am a bit mixed on the magnum Ballistic reticle, but I will admit I have not spent as much time with this scope as I wanted to. I got it at the same time as I did the Magnus and I have to admit, I spent more time with the Magnus than with the ER5.
4) Athlon Ares 4.5-27×50. I’ve spent some time with this scope already and so far I like what I see. It offers a lot for the money, but as the design is new, I want to spend some more time with it before I decide whether I will recommend it or not.
5) HiLux Phenom 5-30x56FFP. Same general comment as on the Athlon above. These two scopes cost about the same customer. I like the design overall, but there is some field curvature that I need to see if I can dial out. HiLux Phenom and Athlon Ares go directly against each other, so I am looking at them side-by-side. These are very featured rich design for not too much money. These are also among the most ambitious designs I have seen come out of China so far. Naturally, they peaked my interest.
6) Hi-Lux Uni-Dial 5-30×56. This is sort of a SFP version of the Phenom above and it is looking quite good so far.
7) Vortex Razor Gen 2 spotter. I am done testing the variable eyepiece and I am now looking at the fixed eyepiece. This spotter rocks and it is easily going to end up at the top of my list of recommendations. Vortex should really get a reticle in there.
8) Leica Noctivid 8×42 binocular. This is the best general purpose binocular I have seen to date. Now, you can make a reasonable claim that other similarly priced designs are as good, but they all have their own character. I have looked at Zeiss, Swaro and Leica at reasonable length and while all three are excellent, Leica agrees with my eyes the best. It has spectacular microcontrast and the most relaxing image I have ever seen in a binocular.
10) Shield RMS miniature red dot sight. I’ve got this thing incorporated into the slide of my Glock 43 and it is likely to become that sight of choice for my handgun use on smaller handguns. Generally, I have been looking at a variety of miniature red dot sights recently and for handgun use, I am converging on Shield RMS and DocterSight III as my favourites. RMS has the lowest sightline of them all, but it is not waterproof. However, I accidentally tested that feature and it is definitely splashproof. I will avoid going swimming with it though. RMS easily lands on my list of recommendations that I will be updating shortly.
11) Shield SIS is to ARs, what RMS is to handguns. I am extremely impressed and it moves to the top of my list for carbiine use. The SIS has really impressed more than I thought it would. There is an interesting (to me) aspect of it that I hadn’t really thought about earlier. Everyone is trying to make red dot sights with minimal visible housing, so that all you see is a bright red dot surrounded by as little as possible. With the SIS, at first blush, the window is comparatively small, while the housing is pretty prominent. However, it does not seem to have slowed me down in the slightest. However, when I did some house clearing drills, I realized that at these close ranges, that housing is really helpful. I do not have to worry about the red dot at all. The moment I see something that needs to be shot through that window, I can pull the trigger and hit it. At longer ranges it works about as well as most other red dots. I have a little astigmatism, so the dots are not terribly sharp, but I can still use the holdover reticle well enough. I have not yet tested it to see if it works well with a magnifier, so that is next.
12) Vortex UH-1. I will have it in my hands next week, so a First Look article is forthcoming.
13) Vortex PST Gen 2 3-15×44. It is arriving next week. When I looked at the new PSTs briefly earlier this year, I thought the 3-15×44 was the best one of the bunch. We’ll see how it holds up.
14) Docter QuickSight. This is mostly a shotgun sight, but I fashioned it to a handgun to see how a short/low window will work. It is an interesting design, and I’ll have more to say about it shortly.
15) Vortex AMG 6-24×50. Almost done with this one. It is currently sitting on my 338LM and working great. EBR7 reticle is not my favourite, but it works. The horizontal has a bit too much happening on there for my taste, but it is undoubtedly a functional design. The scope itself is excellent and I fully expect to buy it from Vortex when I am done. There are a couple of tests I still need to finish, but I am really impressed with what I see so far.
16) Burris RT-6. Almost done with this one. This is my favorite budget 1-6x.
17) Hawke Frontier 1-6×24. I am surprised with how much I like this scope. Excellent reticle design and overall a very solid product.
18) Burris XTR 2 1-8×24. I think the reticle needs a little work, but it is functional. I suspect this the best overall 1-8x scope under $2k
19) HiLux CMR8 1-8X24. I helped design the reticle for this one, so I like it a fair bit. The scope itself is quite respectable and seems to stay zeroed. This is likely the best FFP low range variable to come out of China to date.