IOR Tactical 1-10x26SFP

 

IOR 1-10x26SFP Scope: First Look


For a  couple of years now I have been looking at the buzz surrounding all manner of high erector ratio (8x or more) scopes with considerable curiosity and more than a little amusement.  For the most part, only March has been able to produce commercially available scopes with 10x erector ration in the form of a series of scopes with second focal plane reticles (SFP): 1-10×24, 2.5-25×42, etc.  More recently, March introduced a couple of front focal plane (FFP) scopes with 8x erector ratios.  In the meantime, Leupold has introduced their 1.1-8×24 scope, but priced it right around $4000 making it effectively a non-event for the commercial market.  This scope won some sort of a military contract a little while back and I am guessing that the $4000 list price was needed for price justification for that contract (for the record, as a tax payer, I find the fact that the military is buying a bunch of these for $4k each using my tax money absolutely preposterous).  S&B and Premier have demoed very interesting looking 1-8×24 scopes, but neither has been commercially available so far.  Best I can tell, the S&B version should finally hit the market in 2012, and I expect it to end up costing about the same as the Leupold CQBSS, i.e. somewhere around $4k.  Premier is going through some changes, so I am not sure where it puts the availability of their 1-8×24 scope, but I suppose we’ll know soon.
 
In the meantime, IOR has demoed a 1-10×26 scope during the last SHOT show (2011) and made it commercially available before SHOT in 2012.  As it happens there are two version of IOR 1-10×26 scope.  The fancier version has both FFP and SFP reticles, digital illumination, side focus, 10mil per turn knobs, etc.  It is also heavy and fairly expensive at $2800 or so.  I have seen this version at SHOT, but never tested it.  The other version of IOR’s 1-10×26 scope is a lighter piece using somewhat simplified optical and mechanical construction without the side focus.  It also has a simpler rheostat-type reticle illumination control, 5 mil per turn knobs, and a single reticle in the second focal plane.  Overall look of this scope is a bit more streamlines and it is noticeably lighter.  That is the scope I am playing with now and, contrary to my normal inclination, I figured that I should publish a “First Look” sort of article since doing a full battery of tests will take me a little while.
While in the course of the full review, I expect to have this scope spend time on multiple rifles; however, as a first order of business I spent some time trying to figure out which rifle makes the best match for it.  After some consideration, I figured some sort of an accurate, but still reasonably mobile AR-15 is my best bet.  Hence, I comandeered a friend of mine’s rifle which is configured just right for the application I had in mind:



 1
The upper was built by Centurion Arms with semi-heavy (Recon profile) 16” barrel, Vortex flash hider and Daniel Defense handguard.  The lower is from Double Star with a Magpul ACS stock.  Overall configuration is a little front heavy, but quite stable and capable of precision shooting to the effective limits of 5.56NATO cartridge.  For the time being, I assumed that those effective limits are in the 600 yard range or thereabouts.  This rifle likes 77gr Sierra MatchKings over a healthy portion of Ramshot TAC.  It seems to shoot best with higher pressure handloads (5.56 rather than 223 pressures), so that is what I used (kinda makes sense for a NATO chamber).   That particular ammo has right around 5 mils of drop at 600 yards with a 200 yard zero.

When looking at the competition for this scope, I had a bit of a hard time coming up with exact comparables.  The closest competitor to the IOR 1-10x26SFP is the March 1-10×24, which is also a second focal plane design.  I also added Leupold’s 1.1-8×24 CQBSS and Premier 1-8×24 to the table for comparison purposes.  If I get my hands on any of these scopes in time, I will do a head-to-head comparison, but in the meantime, all I have are their specs.

IOR Tactical 1-10×26

Leupold CQBSS 1.1-8×24

Premier V8 1-8×24

March Tactical 1-10×24

Length, in

11.7

11.75

12.44

10.4

Weight, oz

SFP: 25

SFP+FFP: 33

23.2

26

19.8

Main Tube Diameter

35mm

34mm

34mm

30mm

Eye Relief, in

3.54 – 3.26

3.7 – 3.3

3.54

3.86 – 3.38

FOV, ft@100yrds

87.6 – 10.5

17.5@6x

92 – 14.7

19.6@6x

105.3 – 14.1

18.8@6x

105.8 – 10.47

17.45@6x

Click Value

0.1 mrad

0.1 mrad

0.1 mrad

0.1 mrad

Adjustment per turn

SFP: 5 mrad

SFP+FFP: 10 mrad

10 mrad

10 mrad

10 mrad

Adjustment range

35 mrad

40 mrad

25 mrad

58 mrad

Zero Stop

SFP: No

SFP+FFP: Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Reticle Location

SFP or SFP+FFP

FFP

FFP + SFP

SFP

Price

SFP: $2100

SFP+FFP: $2800

$4000

$2900

non-ill: $2000

ill: $2600

Simply looking at the numbers, a few things stand out:

  • March 1-10×24 is clearly the lightweight of the group, while the dual reticle IOR is the heaviest scope here by a solid margin.
  • SFP version of the IOR is the only one here with 5 mil per turn knobs.  The rest of the scopes here have more adjustment per turn.
  • The IOR scopes have the narrowest FOV at low magnification.  IOR at 1x has narrower field of view than Leupold at 1.1x.  That implies some tunneling at low magnification.
  • At higher magnification, IOR and March have about the same FOV, while Leupold and Premier clearly have wider FOV.
  • Eye relief is fairly uniform across the board here.
  • All of these scopes have plenty of adjustment range for just about any application they might be called to do.
  • Premier is not available yet, so the price might change for all we know, but IOR, Leupold and March are available.  Leupold is easily the most expensive scope of the bunch here.  IOR is probably the value king in terms of features per dollar with the SFP version costing about as much as the non-illuminated version of the March.
  • March is the only scope in this group built on a 30mm tube (although I think the S&B is also a 30mm design).


I spent a day at the range with the SFP version of the IOR and overall, I liked the scope.  Mechanically, it is well executed and the (relatively) compact turrets have widely spaced clicks and the best feel of any IOR knobs I have tried to date (and I generally like IOR turrets).  Since my intended use for this scope does not require dialing more elevation than 5 mils, I can always stay within one turn of the turret.  There is no zerostop on the SFP version of the scope, and while it would be nice to have, I did not feel particularly short changed while spinning the turrets.



I did some tracking tests and found the turrets to be accurate.  I will naturally work them out more as I go along, but at first blush the tracking looked spot on with the elevation turret.  I did not mess with the windage adjustment beyond the sight in, but I exercised the elevation turret within one turn from zero quite a bit.  At a later point, I will check it for multiple turn adjustment, which will make for a more precise test.  What I have done so far tells that there are no obvious tracking problems.
The reticle is an updated version of IOR’s MP-8, with a couple of features new to me.  One is the addition of horizontal stadia below the main aiming point that make the whole thing look like a Christmas tree.  The other is a larger center aiming dot.  It is still a floating dot which I like for aiming, but in this scope it is a bit larger in size to help speed up target acquisition.



I am a bit mixed on this reticle for now, to be honest.  The larger dot is a good match for this scope.  It helps get a lock on the target quickly.  However, the whole “Christmas tree” arrangement is a bit busy in my opinion.  I think that makes for a better match with larger higher magnification scopes than with a 1-10×26.  Also, another thing I do not like very much is that the thick bars are so widely spaced that they do not really help in low light all that much. For low light reticle visibility this scope relies on reticle illumination.  Thankfully, only the center dot is illuminated drawing the eye to the center of the reticle.
At 10x the reticle is calibrated in mils.  In this particular scope, I found the reticle dimensions to be about 4% off, which is not very uncommon with SFP scopes.  The magnificaito ring is also marked with the proper setting to make it a MOA reticle, but I did not bother messing with that.  I prefer working with mils anyway.
The illumination is controlled via a knob on the left side of the turret housing.  This is a simple analog knob that seems to be pretty well calibrated the best I can tell so far.  At maximum brightness the illuminated dot is visible on bright California day, although a dark background helps.  At the lowest setting it seems pretty dim.  I would have preferred “off” settings between the different illumination levels (like on the Steiner scopes), but that is not a deal breaker.
Optically, the scope is on par with the latest IOR offerings I have seen, which is quite good.  There is a little tunnel vision at 1x, but that goes away by the time you get to 1.25x.  In practical terms, it is really a 1.25-10×26 scope.  Within that magnification range, the image quality is excellent indeed with good contrast and resolution along with accurate color representation.
Eyepiece is of the same basic design as used in several other recent IOR scopes and it is a notable improvement over the earlier eyepiece.  Eye relief is quite flexible and forgiving.  The scope is pretty easy to get behind.  Naturally, at 10x the exit pupil gets a bit small, but there is really no way around the laws of physics.




That wraps it up for now.  As I test  this scope more thoroughly, I will add more information.  So far I like the scope.  While it has some flaws, none of them is a major deal for me. Reticle design is probably my biggest complaint so far. I do not like the whole ‘Christmas Tree” business in this scope and I think havin gthe thicker bars come closer to the center would help in low light as well.

Also, it would be interesting to find out how much more expensive this scope would become with an FFP reticle. Designing a proper reticle for such a large magnification range would be a bit of a challenge, but I can think of a few different options. That is kinda the catch, I can see myself using the reticle at 10x, where it is calibrated, in good light. However, as the light gets worse, it would be nice to be able to turn the magnification down to 6x or 7x and still have a calibrated reticle scale.

 Posted by at 11:28 pm