If you are planning to upgrade your scope for woodland deer, vermin control or stalking on the hill, Bruce Potts weighs the pros and cons of five of the best scopes.
Bruce Potts rounds up the five best rifle scopes on the market at the moment ranging from a budget friendly £549.99 to a more high end price at £2,740.
Kahles Helia 5 2.4-12x56mm
Kahles, established in 1898, is the oldest scope manufacturer in the world. Its new range carries the name Helia, a Greek derivative of the name Helen, which means “shining light”.
The Helia 5 is designed to give a perfect, true 5x power magnification zoom range coupled with a new digital illumination reticule, and the 2.4-12x56mm model can rightfully be called an all-rounder.
The 56mm objective lens diameter has light-gathering capabilities over 90 per cent, which is largely due to the excellent Kahles lens quality. They really are superb — bright, crisp and vivid. There is a lot of contrast in the image, which is achieved with the in-house AMV coatings.
The body has a 30mm body tube and the reticule is in the second focal plane, so stays the same size as you change the power. The four-dot reticule gives a very precise aiming mark. The illumination range has a smooth adjustment to get it exactly the way you like it with an infinite setting. There is also a smart feature to the illumination, as there is an automatic light function, which senses when the rifle or scope is canted and thus not in use, and so switches off. Kahles has a great range of scopes of the highest quality to satisfy all sporting disciplines.
RRP: £1,914, RUAG Ltd, tel 01579 362319
Zeiss has an unrivalled reputation in the optical world and its sporting rifle scopes continue to reach higher levels of excellence. Its new Victory HT range uses the latest Schott glass lenses with light transmission of 92 per cent, which, when combined with the new large 60mm objective lens diameter, gives superior clarity even at the highest magnification.
The V8 nature of this scope gives an 8x power range from 4.8x to 35x, which means that you have a one-scope-for-anything scenario. At the lowest powers, you have a capable scope for woodland use, while the intermediate powers are good for shots on the hill and, at the maximum mag, it gives ultra- precise shot placement and acts like a spotting scope too.
The ASV bullet-drop compensating elevation turret also makes sure that your bullet’s trajectory matches the range you are shooting at for perfect shot placement. The large 36mm tube diameter allows greater elevation and windage range, so you have the best possibility of hitting a distant target. Zeiss has probably the best non-bleed or glaring illuminated reticule design for a precise aiming dot at any power setting. The overall design is short and compact at 15.8in and 830g. It’s expensive, but the best always is.
RRP: £2,360, Zeiss UK, tel 01223 401450
Swarovski has upped its game recently, and its top-end scopes have an improved illumination system and user-friendly bullet-drop compensating elevation turrets.
The X5i model is not cheap, but the five-power magnification range from its two models, the 3.5-18x56mm and 5-25x56mm, gives the typical pin-sharp optics and build quality for which Swarovski is renowned.
The 5-25x power range gives a scope capable of woodland stalking as well as running boar on low magnification, while the max 25x power is great for a shot at a distant stag on the hill. The illumination system is far better than before, with a two-button control for a 10-setting intensity scale, which is fast and easy to use. The magnification scale has a heads-up ring so you can see instantly what mag you are on when the rifle is shouldered.
The ballistic turrets are very good, and are large to accommodate an increased elevation and windage range for maximum adjustment. There is a viewing window so you do not lose count as you make corrections for elevation, and the new spring retention system makes for precise adjustment. There is also a sub-zero feature that allows shots at close range from your original zero-stop setting. It’s certainly one of the best scopes that Swarovski makes.
RRP: £2,740, Swarovski UK, tel 01737 856812
Hawke Frontier 30SF 2.5-15x50mm
Hawke has a wide range of reasonably priced products for shooters wanting a good vermin or deer scope. The Frontier is one of its new top- level scopes. Its index-matched lenses produce enhanced clarity and definition throughout the magnification range, and have 21 layers of lens coating to give high light transmission.
The 6x power range allows a smooth transition from short range and wide field of view to a narrower, concentrated image at long range on the highest magnification.
The 30mm aluminium main body tube houses the twin-control turret to the left of the saddle; the first is for parallax adjustment from 30 yards to infinity, and the second illuminates the reticule red dot in 11 steps. There are precise turret adjustments for elevation or windage; one complete turn adjusts the impact at 100 yards to 15in. There is a good choice of second focal-plane reticules, which allows you to get the most from the scope’s and rifle’s capability at range.
RRP: £549.99, Deben Ltd, tel 01394 387762
Steiner Ranger 4-16x56mm
Steiner is a German optics manufacturer famous for its military-specification binoculars. However, in 2012 it produced its first rifle scope for military and sporting use as part of the new Beretta group.
All optics are produced entirely in-house, so Steiner has total control of its production process, which has 460 steps just to perfect each lens.
The Ranger scope offers excellent value for money for a German-made scope. Its proprietary multi-coated lenses offer good high-contrast images, which are equally vivid in low light.
The light transmission is more than 90 per cent yet packaged into a short scope, which has a wide maximum field of view for better target acquisition and to maintain good, safe 9cm eye relief.
The illuminated reticule is precise and clear with six night-time/low-light settings and five daytime settings and an off position between every two settings. This is a very well-made and optically good scope at an excellent price.
RRP: £850, GMK Ltd, tel 01489 579999