Our friends at Targetshooter Magazine just returned from the IWA Outdoor Classics trade show in Germany. With 1455 exhibitors and over 45,530 attendees from around the globe, the IWA exhibition is a major event that rivals the USA’s SHOT Show in Las Vegas.
Here are some highlights from TargetShooter’s IWA Trade Show Report:
Perhaps this is a good place to start, with the latest long-range March offering, the High Master. This is a superb 10-60x56mm scope with a 34mm tube and ED glass. I predict that this scope will once again set the bar for the serious F-Class shooter. Obviously you can’t assess a scope like this at an exhibition, but I hope Target Shooter will have one soon for a proper test.
This year, Tikka decided it was time they got in on the act and staged a press seminar to launch their version – the T3x TAC A1. This one doesn’t go the full AR butt route but has a very nice folding stock and, in spite of this and a 24-inch barrel, keeps the weight down to a respectable 5.1 kg (11.24 lb). Tikka has a very large following and I suspect this one will be a great seller, especially in the 6.5 Creedmoor chambering with 10-shot magazine.
Another action which caught my eye was from a Canadian company called Ultimatum Precision. They had incorporated some really useful features into their ‘Rem footprint’ action and, being Canadian, it might be more accessible without all the American ITAR nonsense. It incorporates a three-lug, floating bolt-head design which means that caliber changes are a cinch, especially with the option of a barrel-nut fixing. It comes with a hard, black finish and will be offered in the usual bolt/port configurations.
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At SHOT Show in Las Vegas, March Optics will unveil its new “High Master” series scopes. These top-of-the line optics are designed for Benchrest and Long-Range Competition. We’ve always been impressed with the clarity and sharpness of March optics, and now they are even better. The High Master line of scopes boast class-leading, state-of-the-art ED glass that delivers outstanding sharpness with near-zero chromatic aberration.
The March engineers tell us: “We’ve found a way to improve upon perfection with our new High Master™ line. Meticulously designed and individually hand-assembled by the expert engineers at March, these scopes feature our new Super-ED, high-refractive glass for unparalleled quality and exceptional clarity. This high-tech glass greatly reduces chromatic aberration for a previously unheard-of level of sharpness and brilliance.”
New March High Master Scopes
March 10-60x56mm Zoom Scopes for Ultimate Long Range
(Five Versions: MAR1078 3⁄32 MOA DOT Reticle, MAR1079 1⁄8 MOA DOT Reticle, MAR1080 MTR-1 Reticle, MAR1081 MTR-3 Reticle, MAR1082 MTR-4 Reticle)
NOTE: The new 10-60x56mm scope features the same mechanical precision and user-friendly design as March’s match-winning 10-60x52mm zoom scope, but with a larger 56mm objective lens and enhanced glass.
March 40–60x52mm EP Zoom Scopes for Benchrest Competition
(Three Versions: MAR1083 CH Reticle, MAR1084 3⁄32 MOA DOT Reticle, MAR1085 1⁄8 MOA DOT Reticle)
NOTE: For shooters seeking “one-hole” accuracy in the Benchrest game, this is the scope. The new High Master 40-60x52mm EP Zoom scope gives serious Benchrest shooters an ultra-sharp, high-magnification variable scope with zero POI shift when changing magnification.
March 48 x 52mm Fixed Power Scopes for Benchrest Competition
(Three versions: MAR1075 Cross-Hair Reticle, MAR1076 3⁄32 MOA DOT Reticle, MAR1075 1⁄8 MOA DOT Reticle)
NOTE: These new March 48-power scopes look to set new quality standards among high-magnification, fixed power scopes for benchrest competition. Fixed-power scopes are lighter and simpler than variable scopes of equal magnification. In weight-limited Benchrest classes this fixed 48X will be a top choice.
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We congratulate Rebecca Richards of Australia for her incredible shooting in the recent RBA Benchrest Grand Prix at the Sydney International Shooting Centre. Consider this, out of the five (5) benchrest classes competing (two air rifle, and three rimfire) Rebecca won four classes outright while placing third in the fifth class. Wow — that represents complete and total domination. Remarkably, Rebecca dropped only 10 points in four days of shooting.
Rebecca’s amazing 4-day performance was near perfection. Overall, she scored 2740 out of a total of 2750 possible points. She shot four of 11 targets with perfect 250/250 scores, and six more with 249/250. Over the course of the event she hit 152 “dots” (center bulls) out of a total possible 275. That’s pretty amazing if you understand how small those center bulls really are. Take a look at the target photo below — the center dot is tiny.
All in all, this was a performance for the ages — one of the best combined airgun/rimfire benchrest performances in Southern Hemisphere history. Kudos to Rebecca for her brilliant performance.
Here’s the modern Sydney International Shooting Centre…
If you are looking for a great deal on a top-quality scope, visit Kelbly.com. Our friends at Kelbly’s are now discounting their remaining inventory of March Scopes. Bullets.com has taken over distribution of March Scopes in North and South America, but Kelbly’s has a few models remaining at deeply discounted prices. In addition, Kelbly’s has some Vortex Razor HD and Vortex Viper scopes on sale.
Starting June 1, 2015, Bullets.com will take over distribution of March Optics scopes in North America, replacing Kelbly’s. You will soon be able to order March scopes from Bullets.com, which now has exclusive March Scopes importing and distribution rights for the USA, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America. For a limited time, Bullets.com will offer March scopes at 15% below regular list pricing.
Bullets.com President Shiraz Balolia is excited about the March scope deal. He himself uses March scopes on his target rifles, and he knows their quality: “We are very fortunate to have been appointed to be the exclusive distributors for the American continent of a very high end scope line like March. I have been a user of March scopes almost since they were first offered. Many major matches have been won with them.”
If you want a March scope, now’s a good time to buy. Jim Kelbly of Kelbly’s Inc. has announced that, during the month of April, “March Scopes are being reduced by 10% for any March Scope in inventory.”
Jim adds: “We have a number of March scopes in inventory and many of the most popular models are [in-stock now]. So give us a call here at Kelbly’s at 330-683-4674 if you would like to purchase a March Scope or check inventory.”
Remember — if you snooze, you lose. The folks at Kelbly’s expect the in-stock inventory of the most popular March scopes to sell out fast. NOTE: This 10% savings offer is limited to March scopes currently in-stock at Kelbly’s. Backordered items or units to be delivered in the future are not discounted.
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New Jumbo .338 LM-sized Action and New KTS “Tactical” Stock
At SHOT Show 2013, Kelbly’s showcased a pair of impressive .338 Lapua Magnum rifles. One of these guns featured the beefy new .338 LM repeater action, fitted into Kelbly’s new KTS stock (top rifle in photo above). The KTS stock shares the long wheelbase of Kelbly’s popular 1000-yard benchrest stock. The particular KTS in the above photo features a 2.5″ rounded forearm, adjustable cheekpiece, and butthook cut-away on the bottom of the buttstock. Kelbly’s website states: “The Kelbly KTS stock is designed for long-range competition and tactical shooting. The KTS stock is based off of our 1M stock. It is available in right- or left-handed models. The KTS is extremely adaptable — we can install an adjustable cheek piece, a 3-way butt pad, a butt hook, or a beaver tail front end (2.5″ wide). The standard configuration is just like the 1M stock, the previously listed options must be requested.”
Personally, I found the wrist/grip shape on the KTS stock much more comfortable than the very fat, blocky grips found on some “tactical” stocks. If you are thinking about buying a McMillan or a Manners “tactical” stock, you should give this new Kelbly KTS consideration as well.
New 1-8x24mm FFP from March
What’s new from March this year? We didn’t see any new high-magnification scopes, but Kelbly’s rolled out an all-new March 1-8x24mm tactical scope. This First Focal Plane scope should be ideal for three-gun competition. The new March 1-8x24mm should also appeal to hunters who want a bright, compact scope with a true 1-power viewing option plus ranging capability.
Kelbly’s is now importing the beautifully-crafted GRS laminated stocks from Norway. Featuring an ergonomic grip, these GRS stocks come complete with adjustable cheekpiece and adjustable buttplate. For decades, Kelbly’s has been a respected source for quality fiberglass stocks. Now, as the GRS importer, Kelbly’s will offer some of the nicest laminated wood stocks on the market. Although final pricing has yet to be set, Kelbly’s expects GRS stocks to cost $600.00 to $700.00. We think this is competitive price range when you consider that GRS stocks come standard with adjustable hardware and no final clear-coating is needed.
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When it comes to long-range optics, some folks can’t have too much magnification (as Tim Allen used to say: “More Power!”). At 500 yards and beyond, when the air’s misty or the mirage is thick, you can’t always use extreme magnification. But, when the conditions are excellent, it’s nice to have 50X magnification (or more) on tap. You can always “crank it back down”. Higher magnification (when conditions are good), can help you see your bullet holes at long range, and that makes it easier to judge your hold-offs and keep your group centered. In addition, there’s no doubt that high magnification lets you aim more precisely, no matter what the distance. Even at 100 and 200 yards, short-range benchresters are using 40X, 50X, and even 60X power scopes. This allows you to position your cross-hairs with extreme precision — something you need when you’re trying to put multiple shots through the same hole.
Raising the Optics Bar
How much power is usable? A few years back, folks said you can’t use more than 45X or so at long range. Well, as modern optics have evolved, now guys are buying scopes with even more magni-fication — way more. There are practical limits of course — with a 56 to 60mm front objective, the exit pupil of a 60X or higher-power scope will be very tiny, making head orientation ultra-critical. Any many scopes get darker as you bump up the magnification.
Despite the exit pupil and brightness issues, shooters are demanding “more power” these days and the scope manufacturers are providing new products with ever-greater magnification levels. Right now, the most powerful conventional riflescope you can buy is the March X-Series 8-80x56mm scope. Featuring a 34mm main tube and 56mm objective lens, this offers a true 10-times zoom ratio and up to 80X magnification. This scope has minimal distortion thanks to high-quality ED lenses designed in-house by Deon Optical, which also machines the main tube from one solid piece of billet aluminum.
To demonstrate the capabilities of high-magnification March scopes, Aussie Stuart Elliot has created a cool through-the-lens video with the March 8-80x56mm scope set at 80-power (See 0:30 timeline). Along with being one of Australia’s top benchrest shooters, Stuart runs BRT Shooters Supply, dealer for March Scopes in Australia. In the video below you can see the March 8-80X focused on a target at 1000 yards (910m). For best resolution, watch this video in fullscreen, 720p mode.
Look through the Lens of 80-power March Scope at Target 1000 Yards Away
Through-the-Lens Views at 40X and 80X at 1100 Yards
To reveal the difference between 40X and 80X magnification, here are two through-the-lens still images taken with March scopes sighting to 1100 yards. The top photo is at 80X magnification, looking through the March 8-80x56mm. The lower photo is at 40X magnification viewed through a 5-50x56mm March X-Series scope. You can see there is a big difference in perceived target size! Click on the “Larger Image” button to see full-screen version at 80X.
Here is another view through a March high-magnification scope, this time at 1000 yards. We’re not exactly sure of the power setting, but we think this is at least 40X. Note the good contrast, and the absence of color fringing or chromatic distortion. When you’re shooting at 1000 yards and beyond, having high-quality glass like this can provide a competitive advantage.
Video Find by Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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New March 3-24x42mm FFP Tactical Scope
Every year, a visit to the Kelbly’s booth is one of the highlights of our SHOT Show experience. This year, Jim Kelbly showed off an impressive new First-Focal-Plane 3-24x42mm March Tactical Scope. We were impressed with this new scope. It offers a wide range of magnification in a compact design. As first glance you think you’re looking at a 4-12X optic, not a scope with 24-power on tap. The scope is intelligently laid out — with mil clicks to match the mil reticle. Notably, the elevation turret delivers a full TEN mils per revolution. That is the same as Nightforce’s “high-speed” mil turret, and the ten mils of “up” should get you all the way to 1000 yards with most popular cartridges. If you’re a tactical shooter looking for a mil-mil scope you should check out the new 3-24X March. We think it is very competitive with anything out there, and it is a lot more compact than many scopes in the 20-24X power range.
Kelbly’s Also Builds Complete Rifles
Along with March scopes and Kelbly/Stolle Actions, the Kelbly booth had a stunning F-Class rifle on display, with a 10-60X March scope on top. This red and black beauty belongs to Jim’s son, Ian Kelbly. It features a polished Stolle Panda F-Class action, pillar bedded to a Precision Rifle & Tool laminated F-Class stock. This was the stock design Charles Ballard used to win back-to-back U.S. F-Class Championships. Jim noted that Kelbly’s continues to offer a full range of gunsmithing services, from barrel chambering to building complete rifles — with your choice of Kelbly stocks or third-party stocks.
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