January 25th, 2019

SHOT Show 2019 — Scopes, Spotters, and Electro-Optics

SHOT Show Optics Scopes rangefinder spotting scope

At SHOT Show 2019, some of the most impressive new products were in the realm of scopes and electro-optics. We are seeing big companies like Leica, SIG Sauer, Swarovski, and Zeiss moving big-time into the technological marriage of microchips and lenses. With the release of the $4500 Swaro dS, a scope with no manual windage or elevation controls, we are really entering a new era in aiming systems for shooters.

Swarovski dS Rangefinder Scope with Ballistics “Brain”

SHOT Show Optics Swarovski dS rangefinder laserscope scope

Swarovski rolled out a new flagship scope this year at SHOT Show, the remarkable dS 5-25×52 P. This $4500+ wonder features a built-in laser rangefinder (like the Burris Eliminator). But there’s more — working with a smartphone App, the dS incorporates a sophisticated ballistics computer that calculates your trajectory at any distance and then displays an aim point on your reticle. It even adjusts the aim point for the wind (with data entered wirelessly via mobile device).

This really is a state-of-the-art electro-optical system. However, there are some negatives to consider. First there are no conventional elevation or windage knobs/turrets. So, if your battery dies in the field, you are SOL. (FYI that big “turret” in the middle is actually just a battery and tool holder). Secondly, all that smart calculation depends on extremely accurate BC and velocity data. If you switch ammo, and don’t have an accurate velocity or BC, you won’t get the right solution and there are no knobs to turn to fix that. The dS will give you an aim point, but it might not match your true ballistics. (NOTE: There are hidden mechanical controls for setting your zero, but these are not intended for conventional shot to shot adjustments).

High-Magnification Competition Scopes

SHOT Show Optics Scopes Kahles 10-50x60mm scope

Kahles K1050 — Central Parallax, Great Glass
Kahles scopes are now being used by many of the top shooters in PRS game. Kahles optics offer great European glass, precise controls, and some unique features. Our readers may not realize that Kahles makes an outstanding high-magnification zoom scope suitable for long-range benchrest and F-Class comptition, the Kahles K1050. This 10-50x56mm optic has a unique centrally mounted parallax control — great for lefties or guys who run a left port/right eject. The Kahles K1050 has a true 8 meters to infinity parallax adjustment range making it suitable for everything from Field Target air gun, 1000-yard competition, and long range tactical. The Kahles K1050 costs $2899.00 — that’s midway between a Vortex Golden Eagle and a 10-60x56mm March High Master (starting at $3425.00).

SHOT Show Optics Scopes Sightron 10-50x60mm spotting scope

Sightron SIII 10-50x60mm
Sightron offers a very affordable 10-50x60mm scope in its SIII optics line. There is a special version for Field Target competition that comes with a “Big Wheel” parallax control. Field Target competitors use the Parallax control to determine target range.

ELR Scope — For 2 Miles and Beyond

March 6-60X Genesis with 400 MOA elevation
A typical premium riflescope might have 50-60 MOA of elevation. That’s enough for shooting out to 1500 yards or so with a high-BC bullet launched at 2900 fps. But for Extreme Long Range (ELR) shooting you need more elevation adjustment, and that’s where the innovative March 6-60X Genesis optic stands out. This unique optic offers a whopping 400 MOA of elevation adjustment. That ample elevation doesn’t come cheap however — the 6-60x56mm Genesis sells for $6950.00. CLICK HERE for full specifications.

Lightweight Hunting Scopes

As scopes have grown increasingly sophisticated and complex, they have also become bulkier and HEAVIER. That’s a big deal for a hunter who may be carrying a rifle, plus another 20-30 pounds of gear and food/water. The average dear hunter will be taking a shot well inside 400 yards so he doesn’t need 25X power or fancy features. He does need clarity, good low-light performance, and reliability — and LOW WEIGHT. We think a good deer hunting scope should come in under 1.5 pounds (without rings). Here are two smart hunting optics, both under 20 ounces.

Leupold VX Freedom — 12.2 ounce Weight, Simple, Affordable
The Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm weighs just 12.2 ounces and street price is under $200. It has a 4.7mm exit pupil, 60 MOA of elevation, and a 33.7 ft Field of View at 100 yards.

Zeiss conquest V4 3-12x44mm

Zeiss 3-12x44mm Conquest — 18.2 ounce Weight, 90% Light transmission, 4X Zoom
These riflescopes were designed as a lightweight, high-performance product line for demanding hunting and shooting applications. The Zeiss 3-12x44mm Conquest delivers 90% to-the-eye light transmission, along with 70 MOA of both elevation and windage travel. This premium second focal plane scope weighs just 18.2 ounces, slightly over one pound.

Compact Spotting Scopes for Field Carry

Many shooters and hunters don’t want or need a heavy, bulky spotting scope. They need a spotter to see mirage, and to deliver more magnification than can be comfortably handheld with binoculars. For hunters, weight and overall size are key. The hunter wants a spotting scope that can be packed and carried easily. Here are two clear, sharp spotter options in a smaller format. The Leupold Gold Ring 15-30x50mm Compact Spotter is particularly well-suited to hunters and tactical shooters.

Nikon Monarch Fieldscope 60mm 18-48x spotting scope

Nikon Monarch Fieldscope 60ED-A
Small but powerful — that describes the Nikon 60ED-A Monarch Fieldscope with 16-48X eyepiece. This unit delivers big spotter performance in a much smaller package. It focuses fast and showed very good sharpness though we observed the image darkens at higher magnifications. This has ED glass and Nikon’s proprietary “field flattener” lens system that enhances sharpness throughout the entire field of view.

Leupold Golden Ring 15-30x50mm compact spotting scope

Leupold 15-30x50mm Gold Ring Compact Spotting Scope
The affordable Leupold Gold Ring Compact Spotter offers 15-30X magnification. That’s plenty for spotting game or viewing mirage. This unit is remarkably compact and we like the simple right-side focus knob. Half the size of typical spotting scopes, this Compact Leupold spotter weighs just 21.5 ounces (1.34 pounds).

Superb Binoculars — When Cost is No Object

Leica Noctivid 8x42 binoculars

Leica Noctivid 8x42mm Binoculars
Our Hunting Editor Colton Reid is a Ph.D. who works with specialized electro-optical devices costing over $30,000. So he knows a few things about light waves and glass quality. When he looked through the 8×42 Leica Noctivid his comment was simple but telling: “These are the best compact binoculars I’ve ever looked through. The clarity and brightness are truly exceptional”. At nearly $2700.00, Noctivids are crazy expensive, but the quality will be worth it to some buyers.

Parting Shot — Think about the Warranty BEFORE You Buy

Vortex Razor spotting scope warranty

This patched-up Razor spotting scope was on display at the Vortex booth. We actually know the history of this particular spotter — it belonged to one of our Forum members. He sent this busted unit back to Vortex, and Vortex sent him a brand new Razor spotter. That Forum member told us: “Vortex earned a customer for life when they replaced my spotter, no questions asked. When Vortex says its warranty is ‘Unlimited, Unconditional, Lifetime’, believe it.”

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March 7th, 2018

New Kahles K525i Scope for PRS and Tactical Comps

Kahles FFP Tactical 5-25 powder scope Vortex Nightforce $4000

PRS guys — check this out. Kahles has just announced a 5-25X First Focal Plane optic that should be a class leader. If you are thinking of upgrading your tactical scope this year, the new Kahles K525i should definitely be on any “short list” of ultra-premium optics. We predict this will be one of the top-performing tactical scopes on the market. Unfortunately, it will also be one of the most expensive. Kahles lists the K525i at €3,300.00 Euros. That’s $4,093.58 at current exchange rates! You can buy a pair of pretty nice tactical rifles for that. Hopefully Kahles will consider dropping the price a bit for the American market. Don’t know how many PRS guys are willing to fork over four grand for a scope.

Thankfully, it looks like the true “street price” in the USA will be a lot lower. EuroOptic.com is now taking pre-orders for the K525i at $3,299.00 USD — that’s a lot different than the €3,300.00 Euro MSRP. Kahles says the scopes should start arriving in summer 2018.

Kahles FFP Tactical 5-25 powder scope Vortex Nightforce $4000

Kahles FFP Tactical 5-25 powder scope Vortex Nightforce $4000This scope is available in both Mil and MOA versions. Click values are 0.1 MIL, or 1/4 MOA. A variety of illuminated, First Focal Plane (FFP) reticles are offered: SKMR3, SKMR, MSR2, Mil4+, MOAK. Notably the parallax control is coaxial with the elevation turret (meaning it is centrally mounted). You adjust parallax by rotating a large-diameter control that runs around the base of the elevation turret. We know that south-paws really like that feature.

Kahles also offers two windage configurations. You can have the windage mounted on either side — on the left side for right-handed shooters or on the right side for left-hand shooters. The windage knob also features a patented “Twist Guard” rotating end cover, which is easy to control while preventing accidental windage rotation.

Manufacturer’s Product Description
K527i features: Maximum optical performance-field of vision, contrast and picture quality, Exceptional repeat accuracy, precise and clearly defined turret mechanism 0.1 MIL or 1⁄4 MOA, side adjustment left or right, Parallax wheel integrated in the elevation turret, patented TWIST GUARD windage, precise illuminated reticles in the first focal plane and large adjustment range.

“The big brother of ultrashort K318i is the new flagship of KAHLES in the field of tactical riflescopes. It combines … maximum optical performance and highest precision with unique handling and ergonomics. The rugged K525i, with its practical magnification range, has been developed for tactical use and long distances.”

PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS
.: Maximum optical performance — field of vision, contrast, and picture quality
.: Exceptional repeat accuracy
.: Precise and clearly-defined click mechanism 0.1 MIL, MRAD or ¼ MOA
.: Side adjustment left or right
.: Parallax wheel integrated in the elevation turret (patented) for 20m – infinity
.: Innovative, patented TWIST GUARD windage
.: Precise illuminated reticles in first focal plane: SKMR3, SKMR, MSR2, Mil4+, MOAK
.: Large adjustment range with 2.9m (E) and 1.3m (W) at 100m
.: Zero Stop

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August 2nd, 2017

Kahles 10-50x56mm Scope Review by James Mock

Kahles MOAK scope 10-50x56mm 10x-50x james mock field test review

The Kahles 10-50x56mm MOAK Long Range Riflescope
By James Mock
The Kahles company of Austria is very old — dating back to 1898. With its long history, Kahles (two syllables, pronounced “Kah – less”) claims to be the oldest rifle scope manufacturer in the world.

What are the features of this scope that endear it to the discriminating long range shooter? First, it offers serious magnification — a true 10X-50X. It has a rather unique, centrally-mounted parallax adjustment control integrated with the elevation turret (i.e. they share the same axis). Included with the scope is a large ring which can be attached to the parallax control to facilitate adjustments without removing one’s head from the stock. Another unique feature is a small red and white pin that indicates how many revolutions one has made. If one red band shows, the scope is in the first revolution; with a one red and one white band, it is in the second revolution, and so on.

Kahles MOAK scope 10-50x56mm 10x-50x james mock field test review

This scope has a 56mm lens, fast-focus eyepiece, and 1/8th MOA adjustments. This is an expensive scope ($2799.00 at Brownells), but there are no short cuts in its construction. The lenses have a proprietary “AMV” multi-layer coating that’s claimed to transmit almost 100% of the light. Also, there is an oil-phobic coating to resist scratches and contaminates such as oil or dirt from sticking to the lens. The scope is nitrogen-filled and features hardened steel mechanisms for adjustments.

Kahles 10-50x56mm Specifications:
Magnification: 10X to 50X
Objective lens: 56mm
Reticle: Second Focal Plane with MOA subtensions at 40X power
Tube diameter: 30mm, Nitrogen filled
Length: 16.9 inches
Weight: 31.4 ounces
Click Value: 1/8 MOA with 20 MOA per revolution
Range of adjustments: 5.3 ft. elevation/ 3.6 ft. windage @ 100 meters
Field of view at 100m: 8.7 feet @10X and 3.6 feet @ 50X
Parallax Control: Parallax ring is centrally mounted on same axis as elevation knob.
Parallax Range: 8m to infinity
Eye relief: 3.74 inches

I first got to test the Kahles in competition at a 300-yard match. The scope performed flawlessly with spot-on, positive adjustments. The central-mounted parallax ring worked perfectly, giving me parallax-free viewing with the ring set on 300. The quick focus ocular adjustment also brought the image into sharp focus. We had some mirage today, but I had no problem seeing bullet holes with the scope set at 40x. The MOA reticle served me well by allowing me to know how many 1/8 MOA clicks to adjust from the sighter target. I shot my Bartlein 1:13.5″-twist 6mm PPC barrel with N133 and Bart’s 65gr Super Man BT bullets. I shot 296-4X out of 300 possible. The 65gr BT seems to be at its maximum range and I was edged out by an excellent 297/?x by a 6mm Dasher. The scope certainly did its part, but I didn’t.

Shooting the Kahles 10-50X at 200 yards before 300-yard match. The quality of this scope makes zeroing it a pleasure. The clicks are positive and audible.
Kahles MOAK scope 10-50x56mm 10x-50x james mock field test review

Kahles Performs Superbly Shooting the Square
With every new scope that I test, I shoot the “square” (a box test). This target below above has ½ inch squares and my aim point was the small square in the lower right quadrant. I shot two shots at it then moved the windage knob 5 MOA left and fired one. I then moved 5 up and fired again; moved 5 right and fired; followed by my final shot after clicking 5 MOA down. This last shot went through the hole made by the original two shots! That’s amazing. These were shot at 100m without wind flags.

Kahles MOAK scope 10-50x56mm 10x-50x james mock field test review

Shooting with the Kahles in 600-Yard Competition
On the 3rd Saturday of the month, we shoot a 600-yard match consisting of four, 5-shot targets on the IBS target. The 600-yard match demands a scope that is very reliable and “spot on” in its adjustments. Since I don’t have a 600-yard range on which to zero, I simply zero at 100 yards and click up 11 MOA. At our matches we shoot steel gongs for sighting in. There is NO sight-in period before the match — all competitors are expected to be “on target” upon arrival. I had to put my faith in the Kahles click values.

Our 600-yard match was my first opportunity to use the Kahles at that distance. I shot the scope set at 40X all day. The crisp adjustments allowed me to get on target quickly and in the first match, I shot a respectable 48/50 with 1X. NOTE: for this 600-yard match I replaced my 6 PPC barrel with an 8-twist 6mm Dasher. I use 32.8 grains of Varget pushing a Bart Sauter 105gr rebated boat tail bullet.

Testing with Hood Scope Checker
Many shooters’ primary concern with scopes used for competitive shooting is their ability to hold point of aim (POA). To test the Kahles, I mounted it on the Hood Scope Checker alongside my 36X Valdada. By aiming both scopes at a given point on the paper and firing several shots, one can determine if either of the scopes’ POA is moving. I don’t have a “frozen” scope to use, but the Valdada has been rock solid for me during many competitions over the last eight years. Pictured below is the setup that I used to test the scopes.

Kahles MOAK scope 10-50x56mm 10x-50x james mock field test review

Kahles MOAK scope 10-50x56mm 10x-50x james mock field test review

It is a pleasure to test a scope of this quality. Everything works as advertised and there are no unpleasant surprises. Many premium scopes fail the POA test outlined above. If a scope holds point of aim, has repeatable crisp adjustments, and sharp clear images, what more could a person ask?

Summary: A Quality Optic with Great Performance
Although I am still evaluating this scope, there are some definite conclusions that I have reached. This scope is for the person who will not compromise his demands for quality, regardless of price. This is not the most expensive large scope on the market at $2799.00, but it represents an extremely high-quality product for those willing to pay a premium for a premium product.

Are there things that I do not like about this scope? Yes, the primary one is the weight (31.4 ounces). This is not a problem for those shooting long range with 17- or 22-pound limits, but the weight is a consideration for those shooting short range benchrest varmint classes (10.5 or 13.5 pounds). Also, I would appreciate screw-on lens caps rather that the large bulky cover. I know that both of these are minor things and do not reflect the quality of the instrument.

If I had to offer any type of critique, it would be for a lower price and lighter weight. I cannot fault the price or weight too much however because quality costs and the scope has large objective lens and a sturdy tube. All in all, I can recommend this scope without reservation to all who want the best and have the ability to pay for same. — James Mock

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January 24th, 2013

Kahles 10-50x56mm Scope with Centerline Parallax Control

Kahles K 1050 scope

At SHOT Show we got a “first look” at the new Kahles K-1050, a 10-50x56mm scope with unique, centerline parallax control. This is a very interesting new high-magnification competition scope. Kahles’s patented centerline parallax control allows the marksman to adjust windage, elevation, AND parallax all with ONE HAND. If you’re in prone position, for example, you simply reach forward with your right hand to dial windage, then slide your hand to the central turret to dial elevation and, finally, set the parallax by adjusting a separate concentric ring.

Watch Video to See Kahles K-1050 Features and Centerline Parallax Control

NOTE: The big-diameter metal ring is OPTIONAL. You can remove the big metal ring and still adjust parallax (from centerline) using a smaller, built-in control ring on the top turret.

Kahles K 1050 scope

Kahles K 1050 scopeDesigned for benchrest and field target use, this scope has a 30mm main tube, 55 MOA elevation, and 1/8-MOA clicks. There are three (3) total turret revolutions. The turret “Rev Count” is displayed with a clever red-and-white striped “barber pole” button in the center of the top turret. One red stripe indicates REV 1, red + white indicates REV 2, and red + white + red indicates REV 3. It’s simple, but it works.

The new K-1050 also features a nice European-style +/- diopter control on the eyepiece. If you have less that perfect vision, this allows you to get a sharp target image even without eyeglasses.

We liked the scope. The glass was bright and sharp, and the clicks were positive and precise. Competition shooters have shown great interest in the new K-1050, and Kahles plans to bring the new scope to the USA by mid-summer 2013. Price is expected to be around $2800.00 USD.

Kahles K 1050 scope

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December 12th, 2009

Half-Off Pricing on Kahles Hunting Scopes at CDNN

Texas discount vendor CDNN Investments has released its latest 2009-5 catalog (30 mb PDF file). As usual, the catalog features big discounts on handguns, rifles, and shotguns. Among the many bargains, we spotted two exceptional deals in the latest CDNN catalog….

Kahles opticsHalf-Price Kahles Hunting Scopes
CDNN acquired a selection of 1″-tube Kahles Helia CL hunting scopes and is selling them at liquidation prices. Kahles is a highly respected Austrian optics-maker. We wouldn’t say that Kahles is on a par with Swarovski or Schmidt & Bender, but Kahles scopes are very high quality, with excellent glass, etched reticles (no reticle wires to drift or break), wide field of view, +2/-3.5 diopter eyepiece, and very good fit and finish. If you’re looking for a quality 3-9 or 4-12 hunting scope, here’s a chance to own a premium European scope for a “below wholesale” price.

CLICK HERE for CDNN KAHLES Scope Sale Order Page.

Kahles scope sale

Kahles scope sale

Mikes holster saleUncle Mike’s Holster for $9.99
CDNN is selling the Uncle Mike’s straight drop belt holster for half price — just $9.99. Models are available for popular Beretta, Glock, HK, Ruger, S&W, SIG, Springfield, and Walther pistols. The holster is made from injection-molded Kydex. Injection molding allows for a MUCH more precise fit than the typical folded-over Kydex holster. This editor has used this injection-molded Uncle Mike’s holster for my Glocks and HKs, and the fit is excellent. The handgun is secure but the draw is easy. Injection-molding allows nice straight corners, so the plastic doesn’t bind or grab as with many “hand-made” Kydex holsters. If you want an “on the belt” holster, I highly recommend this model. You may be surprised to see how much better it works than holsters costing 5 or 10 times as much.

Don’t be put off by the low price. This editor owns and uses Uncle Mike’s injection molded holsters for various handguns. I consider this the best outside-belt holster I’ve ever tried. It is clearly superior to a $85 Blade-Tech Kydex I had for an HK USP, and, I have to admit, it works better than the pretty $125 Milt Sparks leather holster I had custom-made for a 1911. The straight-drop is ideal for range use, and in a vehicle you can wear it on the left-side as a cross-draw (CCW permit required). These holsters fit close to your belt and all metal fittings are recessed or covered so they don’t scratch your gun. IMPORTANT: All plastic/Kydex holsters will cause some wear on high-gloss blued finishes. If your pistol is high-gloss blued, I suggest a soft leather holster instead.

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