Kahles KXi 3.5-10×50

 

written by ILya Koshkin

 

In recent times I have been looking at tactical scopes almost to the exclusion of everything else.  There are a couple of reasons for that, the most important one being a simple fact that the tactical riflescope market has, arguably, been developing and changing faster than other riflescope market segments.  I suspect that it has been driven to a significant degree by the proliferation of accurate AR-type rifles and the popularity of precision shooting competitions.  On top of that, the growth in the precision shooting rifle platforms has been significant.  Hunting rifles have not changed all that much in comparison.  Overall, they got a little better in terms of what you can get for the money and more people hunt with ARs, but by and large, bolt action hunting rifles have stayed the same.  Long range hunting has become popular, but I have ignored it for the most part since that is not my thing, so to speak.

 The other reason is that my interests have been primarily with precision shooting.  More recently, I had an opportunity to join a friend of mine on his hunting lease in Texas for a few days and, miraculously, my wife agreed to let me go.  That made me think a bit more carefully about hunting scopes.  Now, I have not ignored hunting scopes completely, I have looked at most of the newer offerings fairly carefully and on the high end of things, all of the usual suspects (Zeiss, Swarovski, S&B, Leica, etc) offer excellent products that all have their strengths and very few weaknesses.  Out of those, Leica generally agrees best with me, but one brand that has been somewhat absent from my writings lately is Kahles.

I have a long history with Kahles scopes, but as they were working out their issues with US distribution, I largely adopted a wait and see approach.  Now, however, Kahles products seem to be well-supported in US, and I figured it is a good time to revisit them.  I have been looking at a couple of their precision scopes, but with a pig hunt coming up I had a good opportunity to test one of their hunting scopes.

Kahles offers a significant variety of scopes that would work well, but what peaked my interest was the KXi 3.5-10×50 1” scope.  Despite a largish 50mm objective, the scope is quite compact and the magnification range is just right for a general purpose hunting rifle.  Moreover, somewhat unusually for a 1” scope, the KXi has a very well calibrated reticle illumination system.

I typically like to compare riflescopes to similar products from other makers, and that is where I encountered the very first problem: there really isn’t anything out there that is particularly similar to the KXi in terms of configuration and price.  The closest in terms of configuration is the significantly less expensive Meopta MeoPro 3.5-10×44.  While a nice scope for the money, it really can’t compete with the much more expensive Kahles in terms of performance.  Swarovski Z3 is kinda similar, but not illuminated.  30mm tube scopes are usually heavier and/or more expensive.  I picked out a few products out there for the comparison table below, but ultimately, Kahles KXi sorta stands alone in its category.

 

Kahles KXi 3.5-10×50

Swarovski Z3 4-12×50

Zeiss Conquest DL 3-12×50

Minox ZEi 2-10×50

Meopta MeoPro 3.5-10×44

Meopta MeoStar R2 2-12×50

Length, in

12.6

13.78

18.9

13.2

12.95

14

Weight, oz

16.6

14.5

20.5

25.4

17.64

21

Main Tube Diameter

1”

1”

30mm

30mm

1”

30mm

Eye Relief, in

3.54

3.54

3.54

4

3.54”

3.75”

FOV, ft@1000yards

33.6 – 12

29.1 – 9.9

11.88@10x

33 – 9.6

11.52@10x

56.7 – 12

30.9 – 10.8

55.8 – 9.6

11.52@10x

Exit Pupil, mm

14 – 5

12.5 – 4.2

6.3 – 4.2

11.4 – 5.2

11.8 – 4.4

11.2 – 4.3

Click Value

0.25 MOA

0.25 MOA

0.3 MOA

0.3MOA

0.25 MOA

0.25 MOA

Adjustment range

48 MOA

43 MOA

38 MOA

38 MOA

62 MOA

70MOA

Reticle Illumination

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Price

$1400

$1000

$1400

$1600

$800

$1400

 

A brief glance at the table above points toward some of the things that made the KXi so interesting for me: it is the shortest scope of the bunch despite its 50mm objective.  It is the second lightest; only the non-illuminated Swaro is lighter.  It has the widest FOV of the bunch.  Also importantly, it has the largest exit pupil at low magnification in this group.  That makes it very quick to deploy at low magnification.  I experimented a little with bringing the rifle up and firing off a quick shot and it was notably easier to acquire the sight picture than with some other scope I have that offer a smaller low mag exit pupil.

 That was enough to decide to get my hands on one, so I got a hold of Jeff Huber of HPS Optics, Kahles distributor in the US and talked him into sending me one for an evaluation.  Now that I have spent some time with the KXi, it has found a permanent place on my Tikka M695 boltgun chambered for 280 Rem.  Considering the fact that if push comes to shove I have access to any and every riflescope on the planet, that alone should tell you how highly I think of it.

I will discuss what I like and don’t like in a little more detail further down, but here is the gist of it: I think this is the finest  general purpose 1” tube hunting scope on the market today.  It has given me exactly zero problems and I am impressed with optical and mechanical quality of this scope.  I will keep using it and if I uncover any durability issues, I will update this article.

 

http://i400.photobucket.com/albums/pp90/ikoshkin/Sport_Optics/Kahles_KXi/KahlesKXi_3.5-10×50-1_zpsblwjp8bb.jpg

KahlesKXi_3.5-10x50-1_zpsblwjp8bb.jpg

 

The KXi is intended as a somewhat basic hunting scope and while its windage and elevation adjustments proved to be very repeatable over several turret tests, they are really intended to be used in a “set and forget” mode.  They are small, unobtrusive and covered.  Should you have a need to adjust something, you can do so without tools:

http://i400.photobucket.com/albums/pp90/ikoshkin/Sport_Optics/Kahles_KXi/KahlesKXi_3.5-10×50-3_zpsmfmstq0p.jpg

KahlesKXi_3.5-10x50-3_zpsmfmstq0p.jpg

There is 48 MOA of adjustment range available which is sufficient for zeroing.  The adjustments remained linear near the edges of their range and optical quality deterioration at the edge of the adjustments was minimal.

 

On the left side of the scope is the reticle illumination adjustment.  Kahles has been building scopes with illuminated reticles for a long time and they do it well.  At its dimmest, the illumination is barely visible in the middle of the night and at its brightest, it is visible in anything but the best lit conditions.  KXi comes with two available reticles:

  • 4-Dot is a somewhat thinner #4 with an illuminated dot in the center

  • 4D-Dot is similar except it adds four holdover hashes that are 1 mrad apart at 10x.  With this reticle the illumination system lights up five dots for all of the hashes.

 

The scope I have is equipped with the 4D-Dot.  I am very used to mil-based reticles and having a mil-scale at 10x is very convenient since I like to shoot pretty far out even with a hunting rifle when I am practicing.  4 mrad takes my 280Rem pretty far out.  I effectively at sea level and with a 200 yard sight in, the reticle comfortably takes me out to 650 yards with a Hornady 154gr Interbond.  It is also nice to have the mil-scale in case I need to do some rudimentary ranging.

 Here is a table from JBM Ballistics.  Actual drop values are unique to your rifle, but this gives you an idea.

Calculated Table

Range

Drop

Drop

Windage

Windage

Velocity

Mach

Energy

Time

Lead

Lead

(yd)

(in)

(mil)

(in)

(mil)

(ft/s)

(none)

(ft•lbs)

(s)

(in)

(mil)

0

-1.5

***

0.0

***

2856.2

2.558

2789.1

0.000

0.0

***

25

-0.3

-0.3

0.0

0.0

2810.0

2.517

2699.7

0.026

4.7

5.2

50

0.7

0.4

0.2

0.1

2764.4

2.476

2612.7

0.053

9.4

5.2

75

1.3

0.5

0.3

0.1

2719.2

2.436

2528.0

0.081

14.2

5.3

100

1.7

0.5

0.6

0.2

2674.5

2.396

2445.5

0.109

19.1

5.3

125

1.7

0.4

1.0

0.2

2630.2

2.356

2365.2

0.137

24.1

5.4

150

1.5

0.3

1.4

0.3

2586.4

2.317

2287.1

0.166

29.1

5.4

175

0.9

0.1

1.9

0.3

2543.0

2.278

2211.0

0.195

34.3

5.4

200

-0.0

-0.0

2.6

0.4

2500.0

2.239

2136.9

0.225

39.5

5.5

225

-1.3

-0.2

3.3

0.4

2457.5

2.201

2064.7

0.255

44.9

5.5

250

-2.9

-0.3

4.1

0.5

2415.3

2.163

1994.5

0.286

50.3

5.6

275

-4.9

-0.5

4.9

0.5

2373.6

2.126

1926.1

0.317

55.8

5.6

300

-7.3

-0.7

5.9

0.5

2332.2

2.089

1859.6

0.349

61.4

5.7

325

-10.0

-0.9

7.0

0.6

2291.3

2.052

1794.9

0.381

67.1

5.7

350

-13.2

-1.0

8.2

0.7

2250.7

2.016

1731.9

0.414

72.9

5.8

375

-16.8

-1.2

9.5

0.7

2210.6

1.980

1670.7

0.448

78.8

5.8

400

-20.9

-1.5

10.9

0.8

2170.8

1.944

1611.1

0.482

84.9

5.9

425

-25.4

-1.7

12.4

0.8

2131.4

1.909

1553.2

0.517

91.0

5.9

450

-30.4

-1.9

14.1

0.9

2092.5

1.874

1497.0

0.553

97.2

6.0

475

-35.9

-2.1

15.8

0.9

2053.9

1.840

1442.3

0.589

103.6

6.1

500

-42.0

-2.3

17.7

1.0

2015.8

1.806

1389.3

0.626

110.1

6.1

525

-48.5

-2.6

19.7

1.0

1978.1

1.772

1337.8

0.663

116.7

6.2

550

-55.6

-2.8

21.8

1.1

1940.9

1.738

1287.9

0.701

123.4

6.2

575

-63.3

-3.1

24.0

1.2

1904.0

1.705

1239.5

0.740

130.3

6.3

600

-71.6

-3.3

26.4

1.2

1867.7

1.673

1192.6

0.780

137.3

6.4

625

-80.5

-3.6

28.9

1.3

1831.8

1.641

1147.2

0.821

144.5

6.4

650

-90.0

-3.8

31.6

1.3

1796.3

1.609

1103.2

0.862

151.7

6.5

675

-100.2

-4.1

34.4

1.4

1761.4

1.578

1060.7

0.904

159.2

6.5

700

-111.2

-4.4

37.3

1.5

1726.9

1.547

1019.6

0.947

166.7

6.6

The eyepiece is of the fast focus variety and it seems to be stiff enough to stay put once adjusted.  Either way, I plan to put a cover on it that will effectively lock it in place.  I generally prefer fast focus eyepieces simply because I use riflescopes over a wide range of lighting conditions and with both contacts and eyeglasses, so eyepiece settings for me vary and with a fast focus eyepiece it is easy to map out the right settings for day or night conditions and with different corrective lenses.

 The magnification ring is smooth and easy to grab, but it does not stick out, so it is unlikely to catch on anything.  Despite the 50mm objective lens, the scope sits reasonably low to the rifle.  I generally like to keep my scope pretty low to the receiver since the way my facial bone structure works.  Since most stocks these days are really not designed for iron sights (i.e. do not have all that much drop), it has seldom been a problem.  With the Tikka, I plan to upgrade the stock some time this year to one of the McMillan offerings (Game Scout most likely), soI  may have to revisit scope height at that point.  As it is right now (low TPS rings on top of an EGW base) with the factory stock, it is pretty much perfect.

Optically, the KXi is really nicely optimized for low light.  The image is very good during the day as well, but a lot of scopes have good daylight image.  The KXi really comes into its own as the sun sets.  The amount of shadow and dark detail you can see with this scope is just superb. With the overall improvement in optical quality out there, many mid-range scopes do nearly as well during the day as the more expensive models.  However, when light conditions become challenging, you still get what you pay for.

Like many low light optimized scopes, Kahles KXi has excellent contrast and the AMV coatings Kahles uses are tuned to do well in the green-blue side of the spectrum.  The color balance leans slightly toward the blue side of the spectrum, although it is pretty close to neutral.  I had to stare at some color charts to pin it down.

Overall, it seems to have a bit better contrast than top end Zeiss Diavaris, but a bit lower resolution. The sweetspot is a bit smaller than on Swaro Z3 and Z5, but low light performance looks a touch better.

 Edge performance is not quite as good as in the center, but you have to look very closely to see the difference.  Distortion is minimal at worst and is largely confined to the very edges. Flare is exceptionally well controlled.  Generally, short riflescope with large objective lenses tend to have issue with flare, but not the KXi.  Hence, even in presence of bright light source I could easily peer into the shadow without pesky artefacts getting in the way.  This is really where the KXi (and the tactical K312i I just tested) really excel: the amount of detail I see in the shadow with them is absolutely stunning.

The KXi does not have any means of parallax adjustment, so it is set at the factory.  On the one that I have, it turned out to be parallax free at somewhere between 150 and 170 yards.  As is often the case with short scopes, depth of field on the KXi is not particularly deep, so at 10x at distances closer than 60-70 yards or so the image was slightly out of focus and there was some parallax error.  Dialing the magnification down helps with that and by the time I got to 6x, I could comfortably focus down to 50 yards.  At 3.5x, I could focus down to 25 yards.

Eye relief is sufficiently generous for weird shooting positions and I measured it right at 3.5 inches.  The eyepiece is fairly forgiving in terms of eye positioning and the scope was very easy to get behind.  In that regard, it is on par with most other high end scopes, with top end Zeiss and Leica being a touch better.

All in all, I found the KXi’s performance and ease of use to be just exceptional for what it costs and for how compact it is.

 Posted by at 12:14 am

  2 Responses to “Kahles KXi 3.5-10×50”

  1. How does the newer zeiss hd5 3-15×50 stack up next to this kahles? Have you had a chance to look at one?