Updated in March 2021
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. S&B’s Exos 3-21×50 has a really clever elevation turret and seems to be a very well worked out design. It is here conditionally until I do a full test.
I have spent a little time with Blaser’s FFP Infinity scopes and I am REALLY impressed. Their 1-7×28 is one of the best LPVOs I have ever seen with very clever reticle illumination technology. A brief look at the 4-20×58 also left me very impressed. Another FFP hunting scope worth a look is Tangent Theta TT315H 3-15×50 Hunter. It is really expensive and really good. It is essentially a variant of my TT315M, but with thicker reticle for low light and turrets with free spinning collars to prevent accidental adjustment.
Personally, I mostly use Tangent Theta scopes and think they are the best overall, but with high end scopes a lot of this is about personal preference.
I have TT315M with Gen 2 XR and TT525P with Gen 3XR reticle. TT315M will shortly be available with Gen3 XR as well.
However, Zero Compromise Optics (ZCO) is really going after the Tangent’s crown, S&B is up there and March is making a lot of progress.
ZCO has 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, unless March’s upcoming 4.5-28×52 is as good as it promises to be. It is still a few months out, so time will tell.
March does have one new Tactical/ELR scope out that deserves to be here and that is the new 5-42×56 with FML-TR1 reticle that I designed for them (FML-3 is also my design).
S&B has gotten a little more active with reticles and I really like a few of their scopes with GR2ID reticle. The original 5-25×56 scope is still relevant and GR2ID and MSR2 reticles really bring it up to date. Their higher end scopes with 9x erector, while very good, are not my favourite. However, I really like the PMII versions of their Ultra Bright 3-12×54 and 4-16×56 designs. They are compact, well built and have spectacular low light performance. They could use some new reticles though.
Historically, I have not been separating these into a standalone category, but I think I will now. Sometimes I call these “general purpose tatical” as well.
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 so I’ll be revisiting it as I go along.
Low Power Variable Optic:
With tactical scopes, I think S&B PMII 1-8×24 Dual CC is the new king, but Minox ZP8 1-8×24 is still very good and very relevant.
New Vortex Razor Gen3 1-10×24 is right at $2k. It is technically in a different price category, but it is very competitive here still.
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. They have a dual focal plane day bright reticle 1-10×24 with side about to come out. I have the 1-8×24 with FMC-3 reticle and like it a lot. The new 1-10×24 is a soid step forward from it (I have tested a production quality prototype). 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.
This one is easy: any of the March High Master scopes. 10-60×56 is probably the most likely option.