7 Hunting Scopes for 2018: For When Money Is No Object
January 30, 2018
I'm a firm believer that — in most instances — your riflescope should exceed the cost of your rifle. My father always insists "you've got to see it to hit it," but he tends to use inexpensive optics. The higher end of the optics spectrum can be costly indeed, but I've had the privilege of using a couple of top-end optics, and there is definitely a difference.
Here are some of the new-for-2018 scopes in the upper price range.
With a big-honkin' 35mm main tube, the new Leupold Mark 5 represents the pinnacle of the Oregon company's tactical engineering. The best lens treatments, a ginormous field of view, all the light a shooter could ask for; it's all here. Throw in the Leupold Lifetime Warranty, and you'll feel better about investing the $1800 to $2,800 street price. The 56mm objective lens — when mated with a 35mm main tube — will allow your eye to soak up all sorts of light, and that tube will allow for all sorts of adjustment within the scope. There's a full 30 mils of adjustment, and Leupold has had the wisdom to illuminate the reticle, for use in any hunting/shooting situation.
The Leica name has long been synonymous with precision, and their Magnus series of riflescopes is no different. The 1.8-12x50i uses a 30mm main tube and a large 50mm objective lens for the crisp and clear image of your dreams. With 14 mils of total adjustment and the simple, yet effective, L-Ballistic illuminated reticle, the Magnus 1.8-12x50i is a pleasure to look through — as most Leica products are — and will mate perfectly to a fine hunting rifle for a package you can absolutely be proud of. Leica claims 92 percent light transmission through the Magnus series, and after spending a bit of time looking through it I can't argue. It's seriously clear. With a street price of right around $2,700, is a hefty investment, but a true value over the lifetime of the scope.
New for 2018, the Kahles 3.5-18x50 is a short, sweet affair that has some incredible glass and is packed full of features. In a market filled with long and rather heavy scopes, the Kahles makes some adjustments to the setup that are a bit more user-friendly. The parallax knob is on the elevation turret, making the scope truly ambidextrous. The windage turret uses the Twist Guard feature, which prevents accidental adjustment to the scope should it brush up against anything. The turrets offer a positive grip, making turret adjustments a breeze, even when using gloves. Oh, and there's the impeccable Kahles glass, that's really hard to beat. With a 34mm main tube, there's plenty of vertical adjustment.
Zeiss has put their riflescope line through some major restructuring lately, and I feel it's a good thing. The line is now streamlined, with the V4, V6 and V8 series (all indicative of the magnification range) giving very useful features at varying price points. I personally liked the V6 3-18x50, offering a great blend of elevation adjustment, weight and magnification that is completely useful for both hunters and target shooters alike. Fully parallax adjustable, the V6 Conquest can be had with either capped adjustment knobs or with turrets, and the reticle — clearly marked in 2-MOA increments — is uncluttered yet gives all the wind adjustment and holdover capability you'd ask for. The lenses are wonderfully clear, and at an MSRP of $1,749.99 ($100 less for capped turrets), you absolutely get your money's worth.
I'm a fan of Trijicon glass, for good reasons. It represents a value, for sure, but more importantly all of my experiences with their products have been nothing but excellent. For 2018 they offer the 4-16x50 AccuPoint, which while still a hefty investment, is probably the least costly of this lot. You're probably seeing a common scheme among the new offerings, and the Trijicon fits right in, with a 30mm tube and 50mm objective lens, yet this incorporates the famous tritium reticle that allows a shooter to place their shot accurately no matter the light conditions. It's available in ¼-MOA or 0.1-mil adjustments, fully parallax adjustable, and offers six reticle choices — and trust me, there's something for any shooter here. MSRP $1,399
This was a neat scope, perfectly fitting the theme of expensive glass. We all know the Schmidt Bender reputation for being at the top of the heap when it comes to ruggedness, reliability and clarity. However, this scope — with a selling price of more than $5,000 — is fun, even if just to look at. It has a unique combination of features that makes a solid choice for close quarters or long ranges; there is a second-focal plane center dot that gives near-instant target acquisition, and a first-focal plane graduated reticle that allows for accurate shot placement at all sorts of ranges. Essentially designed for military/police work, I'd have one of these beauties about ten seconds after I figured out I had the six winning lottery numbers.
Bushnell has come quite a long way in recent years; they have taken an entirely new approach to their scope line and it's paid off. Their XRS II is one example of the highly useable product line, offering the shooter lots of options in a simple package. With a reticle in the first-focal plane, the XRS offers enough magnification to hit targets well past 1,000 yards, and the EXO Barrier multi-coated glass will make seeing those distant targets easy, even in dim light. The 34mm main tube gives plenty of vertical and horizontal adjustment, and the scope has parallax adjustment from 75 yards to infinity. The ThrowHammer Throw Lever allows for quick magnification changes, even with gloves on and the locking diopter keeps the reticle focused for your eyes at all points in time. Available in black, gray or dark flat earth. MSRP $3,149.95 — 3,289.95