Riflescopes: Over $2000 / No Price Limitations

 

Updated in October 2019

Generally, my recommendations from last year largely hold, but I will add a couple of new entrants that I was very impressed with.

Hunting Scopes:

Generally, most really high end hunting scopes I have looked have had SFP reticles. Out of those, overall, Leica Magnus is the best I have seen. Their 1.8-12×50 is my overall choice, but they are all good. Last year, I spent a little time with Blaser’s FFP Infinity scopes and I am REALLY impressed. Their 1-7×28 is the best LPVO I have ever seen with absolutely remarkable reticle illumination technology. A brief look at the 4-20×58 also left me very impressed.

Tactical scopes:

Personally, I still mostly use Tangent Theta scopes and overall, I still think they are the best. I have TT315M with Gen 2 XR and TT525P with Gen 3XR reticle. However, new Zero Compromise Optics (ZCO) is really going after the Tangent’s crown this year. They have really excellent 5-27×56 and 4-20×50 models. I think there is a 4-20×50 with my name on it somewhere out there.

Crossover Scopes:

Historically, I have not been separating these into a standalone category, but I think I will now. These are tactical and precision oriented scopes that are small and light enough to be used on accurate hunting rifles as well as on precision guns. Tangent Theta TT315M (3-15×50 on a 30mm tube), Vortex AMG 6-24×50 and March 3-24×52 are my choices there. I really like this category and I own and use all three of these.

Low Power Variable Optic:

With tactical scopes, I still think Minox ZP8 is the one to beat. For hunting use, Blaser 1-7×28 is the best LPVO in terms of optomechanical performance I have seen to date. If you want compact, March Shorty 1-8×24 is a freakishly small and very competent design. The original FFP 1-8×24 March is still the only high end scope of this type with side focus. March scopes do not have as bright of an illumination as some other LPVOs, but they excel in other areas. If you are looking at a LPVO as a general purpose design, March has a lot to offer. I really like them in a DMR role, especially on lightweight guns.

Updated in December 2018

Honestly, my recommendations from last year in this price range largely hold, so there really isn’t much to update.

Hunting Scopes:

I still have not had much hands on time with Zeiss V8 scopes, so I can not say anything authoritative about them.  From what I have seen so far, Swarovski Z8i and Leica Magnus agree with my eyes best with a slight edge to Magnus.  If you are looking for a SFP scope for hunting one of these will do it for you.  Just pick the magnification and objective you like. I am very fond of Leica Magnus 1.8-12×50.

Low Light Scopes:

In principle various top end 56mm objective scopes out there (Leica Magnus, Swaro Z8, etc) perform beautifully, but as with muscle cars, there is no replacement for cubic inches. If I were to build a dedicated low light rig, it would have Hensoldt 6-24×72 on it.

Target Scopes:

I have looked at a few target scopes last year, but they were mostly under $2k.  If money is no object, I would still be looking at March High Master scopes.  However, the new Sightron SV ED 10-50×60 with its dual speed parallax has impressed the hell out of me and it barely squeaks in above $2k.

Tactical Scopes:

With low range variables, while the 1-8×24 ATACR is indeed very good, I still think Minox ZP8 is a slightly better package overall.  I am sure Nightforce fanboys will declare a fatwa upon seeing this, but I like my chances.  I like what Minox does with parallax and with MR10+ reticle.

With higher magnifications, my recommendations have not changed: I still Tangent Theta TT315M and TT525P are the best precision scopes on the market, while for a crossover use where weight is important, I would still choose Vortex AMG 6-24×50.  There is plenty of competition in this segment and most available scopes are quite good, so there is not too much difference to look at.  Still Tangent Theta edges ahead.

Updated in December, 2017

The recommendation I made two years ago are at the bottom of this post, so you can see how things have changed.  Here is my take on this as of today:

Low-range variable for hunting:

Swaro Z8i 1-8×24 Z8i looks superb, as does LEICA MAGNUS 1-6.3×24.

With Swarovski and Kahles being imported by the same people again, I do not know what happens with Kahles K16i.  I do think Swaro and Leica have better hunting reticles.

I still have not had any serious hands on time with Zeiss’ V8 1-8×30, but I had some and I am not sure I like what I see.  I need to do a thorough test, since it could have been a fluke.

If you can live with exposed turrets, Minox ZP8 1-8 x 24 should be on your list.

Allround hunting use:

With hunting scopes, I continue to be impressed with Leica Magnus and Swarovski Z8, although on the high end the differences are minor between most contenders.  If you put my back against the wall, my vote goes to LEICA MAGNUS 1.8-12×50 illuminated with exposed elevation turret and ballistic reticle.

Long Range Hunting/Target shooting:

Long range hunting and target shooting are not really the same thing, so I am not sure if I should continue lumping them into the same category.  For the time being, I am simply looking at this as a high magnification SFP scope, since all the high magnification tactical stuff should be FFP in my opinion.

Honestly, whenever someone start talking expensive high magnification scopes, I start thinking about March Optics.  Last year, March introduced their High Master series.  While I think the name is a little awkward, the scopes themselves look pretty good.  In this category, I think that MarchX High Master 10-60×56 is the one to beat, but for my money, I am likely to be looking at the Sightron SV 10-50×60 with its innovative dual speed parallax.  The original model was pretty impressive, but I think they have just updated it with ED glass to boot.

Low Light Hunting:

Zeiss no longer offers the huge 6-24×72 scope, but Hensoldt does and it is still the king of low light.  However, the 56mm scopes out there just keep getting better.  For low light, contrast is important and the way Leica renders contrast really agrees with my eyes.  My vote goes to LEICA MAGNUS 2.4-16×56 (although this just a personal preference over the Swaro;  both are excellent).  Also worth mentioning that I have not seen Zeiss Victory V8 4.8-35X60

Low-range Tactical:

Overall, I think  Minox ZP8 1-8 x 24 is still the one to beat.  However, Elcan SpecterTR 1-3-9 is arguably a better battle sight and is what I use.

S&B now has a 1-8×24 Short Dot that I need to spend more time with and the new Nightforce ATACR F1 1-8×24 looks promising, so stay tuned.

Allround Tactical:

Tangent Theta TT315M 3-15x50mm

Honorable mention: Minox ZP5 3-15×50

Note: I plan to look at S&B Ultra Short scopes in the not too distant future.

Long-range Tactical:

Tangent Theta 5-25x56mm It is expensive.  However, this scope has the bet turrets ever made to date and spectacualr optics.

If you are trying to save weight: Vortex Razor HD AMG 6-24×50  I think this is the best precision scope Vortex has made to date.



Updated in March, 2016

The recommendation I made two years ago are at the bottom of this post, so you can see how things have changed.  Here is my take on this as of today:

Low-range variable for hunting:

Swarovski Z6 1-6×24 illuminated is still superb, but the lower priced Meopta R2 1-6×24 is up there as well and in some ways I actually prefer it to the Swaro.

However, all things considered, I think Kahles K16i 1-6×24 may be the one to beat here.

Also, Zeiss’ V8 1-8×30 scope is worth mentioning.  It looks excellent and a 30mm objective offers a meaningful low light performance advantage.

If you can live with exposed turrets, Minox ZP8 1-8×24 would still be my pick though.

Allround hunting use:

Leica ERi 3-12×50

Swarovski Z6i 1.7-10×42

If you want the most versatile scope on the market: March 2.5-25×42 with illuminated reticle or Zeiss V8 1.8-14×50

Long Range Hunting/Target shooting:

Zeiss Victory FL 4-16×50, 6-24×56 and 6-24×72

Swarovski Z6i 3-18×50

March 5-32×52 or 5-50×56

Low Light Hunting:

Zeiss Victory HT 3-12×56

Swarovski Z6i 2.5-15×56

Zeiss Victory FL 6-24×72 (if you are really serious about low light and do not need to lug this thing around, this scope is spectacular)

Low-range Tactical:

Minox ZP8 1-8×24

Allround Tactical:

Tangent Theta 3-15×50

Honorable mention: Minox ZP5 3-15×50, Kahles K312i 3-12×50

Long-range Tactical:

Tangent Theta 5-25×56

Honorable Mention:  Hensoldt 6-24×72, Vortex Razor AMG 6-24×50

Note: S&B has some new scope I have not seen yet

Updated in December, 2014

If you are buying a scope in this price range, then you have probably done your research, and do not need my advice.  Ultimately, there are no bad scopes here anyway, so your choice depends on personal preference above most other factors.

This price range is dominated by scopes with illuminated reticles from Leica, Zeiss/Hensoldt, Swarovski, Schmidt and Bender, March and Tangent Theta.  However, Minox is making a pretty solid push into this space.

Overall, my selection for hunting scopes will look very similar to my “under $2000” picks, except here these scopes have illuminated reticles.  Also, you will notice that in most cases I prefer Zeiss and Swarovski to S&B.  Mostly, that is just personal preference.  However, I feel that most current S&B designs have a bit too narrow of Field of View at low magnifications.

Low-range variable for hunting:

Swarovski Z6 1-6×24 illuminated (this is probably the king of the hill)

March 1-10x24SFP and 1-8x24FFP

Allround hunting use:

Leica ERi 3-12×50

Swarovski Z6i 1.7-10×42

If you want the most versatile scope on the market: March 2.5-25×42 with illuminated reticle (yes, it has a 10x magnification ratio and it is superb both optically and mechanically).

Long Range Hunting/Target shooting:

Zeiss Victory FL 4-16×50, 6-24×56 and 6-24×72

Swarovski Z6i 3-18×50

March 5-32×52 or 5-50×56

Low Light Hunting:

Zeiss Victory Varipoint 3-12×56

Swarovski Z6i 2.5-15×56

Zeiss Victory FL 6-24×72 (if you are really serious about low light and do not need to lug this thing around, this scope is spectacular)

Low-range Tactical:

There is a new crop of 1-8x scopes and I have not tested them all.  For the time being, I like March 1-8×24 and Leupold Mark 8 1.1-8×24.

Allround Tactical:

March 3-24x42FFP is the ultimate light weight and compact tactical scope with Marhc 3-24×52 not far behind.

Hensoldt 3-12×56 or 4-16×56 offer the best eyepiece in the business and superb low light performance

Tangent Theta promises to take the original Premier Heritage 3-15×50 and 5-25×56 optical designs to new heights with iproved mechanics.

Long-range Tactical:

Hensoldt 6-24×72

Tangent Theta/Premier Reticles 5-25×56

 Posted by at 11:51 pm

  2 Responses to “Riflescopes: Over $2000 / No Price Limitations”

  1. In the market for a x6 56mm hunting scope. Budget $2500. Capped turrets greatly appreciated. Purchasing for a 55 year old relative so ideally thicker crosshairs.
    Looking at the Z6(i) 2.5-15×56 P (BT) and Magnus 2.4-16×56.

    Any recommendations?

    • Both are very good. I think Magnus is a somewhat better scope than Z6, personally, but a lot of it is personal preference. Magnus has that remarkable Leica microcontrast that really agrees with my eyes.

      If you are worried about reticle visbility, illumination is your friend. Both of these have reticles that are very usable, but not very thick.

      I would need to double check, but I think Meopta Meostar R2 2.5-15×56 comes with 4C reticle that is a little thicker than 4a reticles in Swarovski and Leica. The R2 2.5-15×56 is finally available with side-focus which really makes it a contender. While not quite as nice as Magnus, it is definitely up there and the differences are small.