SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY: 2017 Optics
January 31, 2017
The SHOT Show had something new for just about every optics lover. There was an exceptional low-power variable from Bushnell all the way up to a new front-runner in long-range precision from Nightforce. Throw in some groundbreaking work in rangefinders from SIG Sauer, a new 1-8X from Trijicon and a new holosight from Vortex, and 2017 looks pretty great from an optics point of view.
TRIJICON 1-8x28mm — Few optics have more uses than a well-made 1-8X variable. It can handle everything from home defense to hunting duties out to several hundred yards. The greatest difficulty with such a scope is creating a reticle that works effectively across the entire magnification range.
Trijicon succeeded. Their reticle is a traditional crosshair that subtends in either mils or MOA surrounded by an illuminated circle that functions as a bold aiming feature at low magnification. The reticle sits in the first focal plane, so the crosshairs are easily visible at the high end and the illuminated circle stays out of the way. At low magnification, the reticle becomes less visible, but the circle collapses into a bright ring that is visible in any lighting condition. It is ideal for fast work up-close, $1,700.
SIG SAUER KILO 2400 ABS — SIG Sauer gained all the credibility they needed in the rangefinder market when they unveiled the older Kilo 2000 in 2015. It offered more capability than any other rangefinder in its price bracket.
SIG Sauer has outdone themselves with the new Kilo 2400 ABS. Shooters used to need a rangefinder, a ballistic calculator and a weather meter to get accurate data for long-range shots if they expected to get first-round hits on target. SIG Sauer has combined the best of all three technologies into the Kilo 2400 ABS.
The new rangefinder has the Applied Ballistics ballistic calculator built into the device, and the user inputs the data using a smartphone app. Once loaded into the Kilo 2400, the phone is no longer needed, and up to four rifle profiles can be stored at a time. The 2400 ABS has all the metrological sensors needed to ensure accurate holdover data at long range. This device is tiny but means a great deal to long-range shooters and hunters looking to eliminate the amount of equipment carried in the field. Where we used to need three, now we need only one, $1,800.
BUSHNELL SMRS 1-6.5x24mm — Bushnell's new low-powered variable also has a terrific reticle for use across the broad magnification range, but the reticle is in the second focal plane. This means the mil subtension will only be accurate at maximum magnification, but it will also be easier and faster to acquire a full field of view when seconds count. Recent testing by SOCOM determined that second focal plane reticles are faster into the fight than first focal plane reticles in 1-X variable powered optics.
The SMRS continues to build on Bushnell's highly regarded Elite Tactical line. The turrets on this model lock in place, and Bushnell added a folding power change lever that speeds magnification changes and folds out of the way when it's not needed, $1,822.
LEUPOLD MARK 8 3.5-25x56mm — Leupold took their Mark 8 3.5-25x56mm scope, changed the turrets, got rid of the illumination and shaved a couple grand off MSRP. The new Mark 8 has the same optical package as the original, so image quality is excellent. The new turrets have a lower profile, so they remain out of the way but retain the zero-lock feature.
This new entry into Leupold's lineup indicates a serious push to make their excellent optics more affordable for those pushing the limits of long-range shooting. This scope was originally developed at the request of SOCOM and had a long feature list. The other 99.99 percent of us will appreciate the same outstanding image quality at a significantly reduced price, $3,900.
VORTEX RAZOR AMG UH-1 — SOCOM is looking around for a new holographic sight, and this is Vortex's submission. The Razor AMG UH-1 is made entirely in the U.S., except for the reticle. The sight has a large window through which the shooter looks with the reticle projected onto the screen. It is the fastest optic type for any rifle.
The UH-1 is part of Vortex's AMG line, so this baby is made at their new facility in Wisconsin. It has a low MSRP and carries Vortex's excellent warranty, which states that the company will replace your optic regardless of how it broke. Between the fast target acquisition, low price and American manufacture, the UH-1 will be a very popular optic in 2017, $500.
NIGHTFORCE 7-35x56 ATACR F1 — While the 7-35X might look like a bigger sibling to the 5-25X from the same line, it is a completely new scope from Nightforce. This optic was meant to be the ultimate in long-range or extended long-range (past 1,000 yards) shooting, and it succeeds in accomplishing that goal.
The short objective lens focal length gives this scope tremendous field of view and plenty of room for elevation travel with 100 MOA available. The side focus adjustment goes all the way down to 10 meters, so dry-firing on reduced targets is a viable option. It uses low-dispersion glass that gives this scope phenomenal image quality under a wide variety of shooting conditions and is available with the Mil-R, MOAR and TReMor 3 reticles. MSRP: $3,600.
BURRIS RT-6 — This new 1-6X from Burris is a welcome addition to a bumper crop of expensive high-performance optics. At a reasonable price point, this 30mm maintube second focal plane scope will definitely find a home with novice 3-Gun shooters and AR aficionados.
The RT-6 comes with a ballistic reticle that subtends out to 600 yards. The reticle is also illuminated, making shots on a dark background or in low light possible. There is an integrated throw level on the power adjustment ring to zip from one power setting to the next. The combination creates an inexpensive scope with a wide performance range that many will welcome. MSRP: $420.