Riflescopes test 2022
Almost two years ago we did an optical test of riflescopes and we thought it is time to repeat this test. And so we took several different scopes of ours and our friends (that is, our own pieces, nothing was on loan from a manufacturer or importer) and got down to business. Last time we did it at an indoor range under artificial lights and this time we were outside on a beautiful sunny summer day. But we discovered that this was not enough, so we again had an indoor shooting range with artificial lighting, which simulates bad light conditions. And while we were at it, we also evaluated the user comfort when using the scopes - because some of them surprised us with how difficult they were to work with. And finally, we also did a tracking test... So it's a fairly comprehensive evaluation, including long-term experience from the user's point of view.
However I must admit that this is a subjective evaluation after all. But based on the experience of shooters with years of practice.
In this test we wanted to test optics suitable for tactical shooting, Dynamic Precision Shooting, or even for hunting at longer distances.
We had the scopes removed from the guns - only with the mounts or rings (except for one new piece that hadn't been mounted yet). Two were new all others are used. And with those we can also evaluate their durability, reliability and long-term experience, both from an optical point of view and from a user point of view.
But a direct comparison between them is essential. Sometimes you think that "this scope has a nice image" but in a direct comparison under the same conditions we suddenly find out that it is not so great anymore... This direct comparison led to several interesting situations when even the owners had to admit that their previous conviction about the optical quality of a specific riflescope was not completely realistic...
Everyone adjusted their rifle scope to their own liking. We had plenty of time and we were in no rush. And that's for every phase of testing. In addition we repeated each phase of testing. Both outdoors in daylight and indoors in poor light conditions. Overall there was quite a lot of data and the result is their average. We always performed the test with 3 shooters. The age ranged from 20 years to 50 years. The resulting values of the optical test are therefore an average under both good and poor lighting conditions.
This is the resulting chart of the optical part of the test according to the FinnAccuracy methodology. I admit that some of the values surprised us a bit - so we re-tested those "strange values" to make sure we didn't make a mistake. And thanks to the fact that the optics were tested by 6 shooters, and everything is averaged - so I dare to say that even if it is a subjective assessment, it is still quite appropriate... I would like to see everyone personally the honest surprise and disappointment of the owner of a premium riflescope at the price of a used car who just found out with his own eyes that cheap Chinese riflescopes give just simply better image... During this test a lot of bad language was used......
Optically three rifle scopes stood out. But from the user's point of view one of them is significantly worse (Schmidt & Bender 5-25x56). And in the chart above is one of the riflescopes that has a high rating (Vortex PST II 5-25x50. I checked its results several times and we repeated the test to be sure), but in reality it did not completely amazed us. While some other scopes were a nice surprise although they didn't have a score that high. This is due to the fact that it is simply optically good in all evaluated parameters, but does not stand out significantly in any of them. And compared to others the image is not subjectively "so nice"...
In any case the two same scopes stood out again in poor light conditions as in good light. And they are Nightforce ATACR F1 7-35x56 and Leupold Mark5 7-35x56. I also had a Leupold with a 5-25x56 magnification available, and it also had similar optical results (it is not included in the chart because I did not have it available for all tests, but only for tracking and bad light).
I made this target to test the dimensions of the reticles and also for the tracking test. Tracking means if the turrets really have an accurate "click" value. In this case, we tested whether at 10 MIL the aiming point really moves exactly 10 MIL, i.e. 100 clicks and exactly in the axis. We did 100 clicks vertically and 50 horizontally. We repeated this test several times with each scope. When we had several rifle scopes of the same type we tested each of them.
In this picture I managed to capture quite well that the reticle does not fit exactly. It can be seen that it shows 10.1 MIL in real life instead of 10 on the reticle. So the rating is 101 out of 100. And it's similar with clicks - if the center moves a real 100 clicks (100 centimeters at a distance of 100 meters), that's great. A deviation of up to 1% is still acceptable. But a larger deviation already means that it has to be taken into account. Fortunately, it can be solved - by modifying the ballistic chart. But we need to know exactly how much the clicking distorts in order to make this correction. It is important that the deviation is exactly the same every time and that the center of the reticle always returns perfectly to the starting point. None of the riflescopes tested had a problem with this.
Tracking test result. I didn't test all the scopes because we just didn't want to continue to work with some of them. And that's because we decided that it didn't make sense for DPS anyway, because they were very unpleasant for the user and working with them was "punishment" compared to others...
The first column Reticle means if its dimensions match reality.
The second column Tracking shows how precise are the turrets clicking.
The third column Reticle means how suitable it is for DPS according to our subjective evaluation.
The fourth column Turrets shows how we rate riflescope turrets.
And now in more detail about the individual riflescopes tested:
Vortex Strike Eagle 5-25x56 EBR-7c
Optically it's no wonder. Chinese glass, especially in the dark, is not ideal. I've been using it for a few months on my main competition gun so I have a pretty good idea of what it has to offer.
The dials are locking, which is great. But unfortunately their operation is bland, "mushy" and in more than half of the rotation range, the lines do not match. And that's a problem because the shooter just isn't sure if he clicked 37 or 38 clicks. The dial marks points exactly between...
Tracking ani kříž tak úplně nesedí a spolu s nepřesným klikáním to je špatná kombinace. Tracking and the reticle do not quite fit, and together with imprecise clicking, it's a bad combination.
Overall I'd say it's not a bad scope for the price. After all, I used it for several months on my main competition rifle. And I had excellent results. But not thanks to this scope. However, it is reliable and works well.
I consider the EBR-7c reticle to be ideal for tactics, dynamic shooting and hunting. It offers everything one needs, it's simple and has good line thickness. It is the gold standard by which others can be compared...
Vector Continental 5-30x56 SCFF-41
Optically it surprised us all in a positive way. Although it is a Chinese rifle scope, it is optically good, especially in good light. It's not so great in the dark, but considering the price, it's optically just excellent.
The dials are locking, it has a Zero Stop (which can be set as desired) and also a turn indicator. There is simply nothing to complain about. The dials have a clear and distinct movement and the marks fit properly.
Both tracking and reticle are 101 / 100. That's still within a reasonable tolerance. To be sure I also tested the tracking with the 4-24x56 model and it was also within tolerance and optically it was similar.
Overall I was very surprised by this scope and I definitely do not regret buying it. I don't have long term gun experience with it yet, but I can't wait to work with it. We were all very interested in this riflescope - mainly because of what it offers for its price.
Reticle VEC-MBR is very good for DPS and tactics. The inner crosshair with a center dot is ideal for fine aiming and is also illuminated (the rest of the reticle is not) which is convenient for hunting. Overall, it's fairly fine and non-distracting, and is better suited for magnification above 10x.
Vortex Viper 5-25x50 EBR-2c
Optically it is so good that its result surprised us and we tested it again and again to be sure. Although subjectively it does not have a distinctive image that would blow your mind and say: "Wow, that's great", it is simply good and comfortable to use. Even in dim light it was surprisingly good, but not outstanding. It's hard to describe... I have had and used this scope for years and am very happy with it.
The dials works just as we want to. The only complaint is that they are not locking. It has already happened to me several times that I accidentally turned the windage turret and since it is used minimally, one does not check it much before the shot and so I did not notice it - and I did not have the hit... The truth is that it is an older design and at the time of launch, only significantly more expensive riflescopes had this function. But the bonus is that the elevation turret can be adjusted smoothly throughout the entire range - not just within the click value. And even premium riflescopes with a multiple price tag do not have that.
Tracking was with an error of 2% and corrections need to be made with that. The reticle fit fairly well.
Overall I have to say it is a reliable and good scope at a great price. It is such a middle class standard. The reliability is excellent, we've had several on the team for years and never had a problem...
The EBR-2c reticle is an older type that is no longer produced. It is a basic reticle of the "Christmas tree" type.
Hawke Sidewinder 8-32x56 ½ MilDot
Optically weaker Chinese rifle scope at a low price. It didn't offend us and it is quite decent in its price category. However, I didn't take it to the tracking test and in poor light conditions, because we thought it was unnecessary.
Overall it should be noted that it has quite sensitive parallax and a small field of view. But for a small caliber it is a decent choice considering the price, except for the values of click and reticle. It is simply harder to work with MOA clicks and reticle than with the MIL type.
Vortex Razor II 4,5-27x56 EBR-1c
Optically it's not exactly bad but it's true that the competition is better. Even in the dark it's not a miracle. The reason is a kind of subjective "smaller magnification". I don't know how to accurately describe it but at the same magnification everything seems "smaller" than with other riflescopes and thus you can see "less details", which means a worse score in the chart. Basically everyone who looked through it first checked to see if the magnification was set to 20x like other scopes. But it was, and the width of the field of view was the same. The image is otherwise "natural, pleasant" and does not hurt the eyes.
However the dials are absolutely great. They have a very clear and reliable operation, it is easy to read how many clicks you have set. The lines match and it also has a turn indicator. In addition, they are locking and the Zero Stop is set to -5 clicks. But what's best - they can be adjusted smoothly regardless of the value of the click. It's a wonder other manufacturers don't offer this great feature! The ease and certainty of working with the dials is a big plus of this rifle scope.
Tracking is 100% as is the size of the reticle. And that was so interesting that we tested the tracking with another riflescope of the same type and it was also 100 / 100. And only one other riflescope managed to do that. Mechanically it's just great.
Overall this scope is easy to rate. It is abnormally heavy (almost 1.5 kg and that is really a lot). It is extremely easy to work with, forgives mistakes, is completely reliable and "forgiving" a lot (for example, mistakes in aiming). It is easy and quick to work with. It is extremely "user friendly". It's just optically a bit worse than the competition. However, it is no coincidence that it is by far the most used riflescope in the American PRS. Unfortunately, the price of this scope has skyrocketed here, and at the new price it is not that competitive anymore... At the old price, I would immediately buy it again.
The EBR-1c reticle is the original, which has not been offered for years. Today, in the variant with the EBR-7C reticle it is a great choice.
Vortex AMG 6-24x50 EBR-7b
Optically it is better than its heavier twin Razor II. In the dark, you can see very well with it, although, unlike the competition, it has the handicap of a 30mm tube and a 50mm lens.
The dials are great just like the Razor II. Only they don't have a turn indicator, otherwise they have all the good features of the Razor.
Tracking is good - 99.5%. Mechanically it is great, even though the tube is only 30mm.
Overall it is a model that has all the good features of the Razor II, but in a smaller and much lighter version. Optically, it is even slightly better. This scope is suitable for tactics or hunting due to its size and weight. I've been using it for several years now and I'm still thrilled with it. Due to the size of the tube and the lens, of course it has a worse image in low light than its 34 / 56 mm competition, but it makes up for it with its smaller size and light weight.
The EBR-7b reticle was well ahead of the competition in its day and is still one of the most suitable for tactics and DPS. Working with it is easy, fast and safe. The open center with a fine dot in the middle allows for both fast and precise fine aiming.
Schmidt & Bender 5-45x56 PM II High Power LRR-MIL
Optically it is not what we expected... In addition, it is extremely difficult to find the correct position of the eye behind the scope. The owner himself stopped using it because he "shot significantly slower with it than with other riflescopes". In addition, it is extremely sensitive to parallax settings, and any small error in aiming is "rewarded" by missing the target...
We did not try dials or tracking with this optic, because it was unnecessary...
Overall I'd say it was the biggest surprise and disappointment of the entire test. On the point was a remark of one of us who casually blurted out: "I wouldn't believe how bad that Schmidt is. The other Schmidt wasn't that bad after all. But it was still bad..."...
Unfortunately, this scope is difficult to use for dynamic and fast shooting. And we won't talk about it anymore...
Nightforce ATACR F1 7-35x56 Mil-R
Optically this scope is simply still top notch. He was the best in the previous test and retained the top rank in this test as well. Bright and clean picture, vivid colors and very pleasant. We also know from experience that it has an above-standard image even in poor lighting conditions, which we confirmed again. It is easy to work with and forgiving of aiming mistakes. He is simply a pleasure to work with.
The dials have a certain movement and are easy to work with. 12 MIL per turn does mean that the lines are a bit more closely spaced, but with a certain amount of clicking, it's just under the point where it would trouble the shooter. The side dial is under the cover, which eliminates the possibility of unwanted rotation. Zero stop is present of course.
Tracking was 100% and so we tried it on one more piece and it was also 100%. Along with Razor II, they were the only two types to have 100 / 100 on two pieces. Mechanically it's great.
Overall all I can say is that the ATACR 7-35 is still the king for us. Especially in low light conditions. Its only negative is the price... Until recently the Razor II sold for less than half the price and that's just too much of a difference. Today it's a little different, but still Razor II, Kahles and Leupold are less than 2⁄3 the price and that's still a big difference. And that's also the only reason why I don't have one myself...
The Mil-R reticle is older one and today Nightforce has more suitable types. But even so, it is relatively good to work with.
Leupold Mark5 7-35x56 CCH
Optically it almost catches up with Nightforce. Above all, in the dark, both are better than the others in the test. However, it has a narrower field of view. Which means that for a bigger "overview" you need to give a smaller magnification. Conversely, at the same magnification - and we used 20x magnification for all - you see seemingly greater detail. Otherwise, this scope is quite forgiving of mistakes and has a really nice image.
The dials feel very solid and the clicks are clear and distinct. The lines are not too close to each other and Leupold even offers extra dials with highlighted lines for "blind ones" that are really, really easy to work with. The side dial has a cap and the elevation dial has a kind of "safety" that locks the elevationdial in the Zero position. In order to be able to manipulate the dial, it is necessary to press this button. However, it is exactly in the place where you hold the thumb when manipulating it with your fingers so it is completely natural and easy. It's an interesting and functional gadget... Zero stop and turn indicator is there, of course.
However tracking is the biggest weakness of this scope. 104 / 100 is just too much. The reticle also had a deviation of 98 / 100. So I got two more pieces of the same type and it was similar, on average 103 / 100. It was really strange, because the 5-25x56 type is the second most used riflescope in the American PRS... Fortunately, I managed to borrow this model from a friend and it was much better in tracking, with only a 0.5% error and it is completely OK. I can't explain it, in any case, for the 7-35x56 model, I recommend a tracking test and, depending on the result, any corrections to the ballistic chart.
Overall I was really pleasantly surprised by this Leupold. According to the experience of foreign shooters, it is also very reliable. The task is to do a tracking test and correct the charts. It is optically great and very easy to work with. It forgives mistakes and can be seen above standard with it in the dark. For some it can be quite an important factor... And the price difference compared to ATACR is worth the tracking test and corrections.
The CHH reticle has relatively strong lines at a first glance. But if we realize that the rifle scope has a slightly narrower field of view and will be used for rapid shooting at a lower magnification - then it makes complete sense. This reticle is designed for rapid fire under stress. Leupold also offers a similar PR2-MIL reticle, which is much finer and therefore more suitable for use at higher magnifications.
Kahles 525i AMR 5-25x56 (I admit, the photo didn't turn out very well...)
Optically it is a good riflescope, with which you can see well even in the dark. The big lens and the big tube help a lot. Forgives aiming mistakes.
The dials are... non-standard... Normally, instead of the parallax correction (focusing), the windage dial is on the left, and the parallax is the outer dial under the elevation turret. On the right is the illumination control. It can be configured somehow when ordering from the manufacturer, but not all of it.
This arrangement is completely unusual, and for anyone who has any other scope on another weapon it is a trap. Above all, under stress and at higher speed, it is absolutely impossible to master a completely different control. It's like getting into a car that will have the pedals and gears messed around... It's possible to use it but you have to focus on it.
And I have to mention one more thing. The elevationdial does have 15 MIL per turn (why?), but that makes the lines so close together that it's not easy to tell 37 from 38. The click is nice and sure and the lines line up, but they're so close together that especially under stress and speed it's a problem.
Tracking and reticle are within 1% error tolerance, i.e. 101 and 100.8. and sideways 49 / 50. That's without problems.
Overall I can say this: "if you only have a Kahles scope, you're fine. But if you have more guns and a different type of scope on the others - under stress and with fast control, you're in trouble". I won't quote the others...
The AMR reticle is even a bigger trap than the dials... It looks very good on the beginning. But the problem is that the center of the cross is not in the center of the image. When handled quickly, our brain is good at centering circles and naturally centering the image. But here you have to focus more on it. It's like your shy cousin looking at your feet - you're also not sure if she can see your face...
The second problem is when in some "wild shooting positions" you can't get the eye to the correct focal length, but you usually have it much further. With a normal riflescope, this is not such a problem - you do have shadows on the edge of the field of view, but you center them with the center of the reticle and hope that the riflescope forgives your aiming error. Some do without problems. But in this case you are quite unlucky because the center of the cross is not in the center of the image... Fortunately Kahles can offer some other and really good reticles...
Zeiss Victory V8 4,8-35x60 MilDot
Optically... it's difficult to describe. The image is quite distorted. The center of the field of view is crystal clear and you can see beautiful details and it's optically great. But towards the edges it starts to be slightly deformed and less sharp. And a colored ring is even at the edge of the field of view (it refracts the light). And he's also super strict on eye position. Also, it was the only scope that I couldn't get a decent photo through it... It just wasn't possible, I had to give up.
Dials... The elevation dial rises quite a bit to unlock and suddenly the line is so far that it's hard to estimate how much you've actually clicked... It's absurd, especially compared to others. The dial range is also weak.
We did not do a tracking test at all.
In general - I didn't even want this scope for comparison, because it is not a suitable type for dynamic shooting. It is a specific hunting optic. However, the owner was quite sure that it would optically dominate everyone else, so we tested it too. Well, it wasn't even optically as we expected...
Schmidt & Bender 5-25x56 PM II LRR-MIL
Optically this scope is very good. On par with Nightforce ATACR and Leupold Mark5. But that is purely an optical matter. User-wise, it is extremely "strict". It does not forgive any error in the position of the eye and also suffers from the well-known "tunnel effect" at lower magnifications. Although it is more forgiving of errors in the parallax correction setting than its colleague 5-45 High Power, it is still stricter than most of the other optics in the test.
The dials are lockable with Zero stop. It is also possible to choose which way it spins (thus eliminating the problem of having the opposite control than the rest of the civilized world uses). The elevation dial has 14 MIL per turn, so the lines are very dense next to each other and it is difficult to tell how much you have clicked. Another problem with the turrets is that unlocking them is really difficult. In a prone position it is sometimes a struggle.
The tracking test went well, with a deviation of 0.5%. The reticle is 100 / 100.
Overall it's a user-unfriendly scope that doesn't forgive mistakes and instead of helping you, you just have to fight with it... What's more, these strict bastards tend to have quite a lot of problems with quality and reliability. Complaints are quite frequent. And with a price that is well above the Kahles, Razor II, Leupold Mark5 and Vortex AMG, it's just sad.
The LRR-MIL reticle is nice and fine. The center of the cross is very fine and does not cover the target. Thanks to this, it is more suitable for more precise shooting than for shooting fast and under pressure - it's terrible how strict it is on the eye position and parallax settings.
March-FX 5-40x56 FML-1
Optically we all expected much more. And we didn't get it... The picture is so dull, I'd say grey. Details can be seen well, but contrast, edges and color are disappointing compared to others. And it also does not forgive mistakes in aiming or parallax settings. In addition, it has a rather narrow field of view. In the words of one of us: "well, it's nothing extra...".
We did not evaluate the dials or tracking.
Overall we were so surprised and disappointed that we did not take this optic to the next phase of the test.
This test was our own subjective rifle scope comparison test. And our own riflescopes were used. We have no ambition to claim that we are right about everything, or that we couldn't have made a mistake somewhere. Also, this is our own subjective review - but it's a review of our own scopes that we've privately purchased and use. So we are not affected in any way.
I even dare to say that when some expensive rifle scopes turned out to fail in comparison - even its owner admitted it. We were strict and honest with ourselves in this regard. It was hard to accept at first, but during the test we all accepted it as it is.
This test and its processing took us a tremendous amount of work, time and effort. In the process, we learned and found out a lot on our own. And above all, that there is always a cost for something. And that the pursuit of the best optical properties is actually laughable, because we all understood and recognized that the most important thing is how easy or difficult it is to work with these devices.
What's the point of a rifle scope that I can see the most amazing details on the target - which I can't hit!? Super details are nice in a spotting scope. For a rifle scope, it's important to allow me to hit easily. But it goes without saying that I also have to find the target - perhaps in the dark, or on a bad and non-contrasting background... So it's a fairly complex set of requirements that we have for a rifle scope. However, from our experience and from the experience we gained during this testing, we have a relatively simple output:
I want a scope that is simple and easy to use, that I can see well with, and that I can afford. Fortunately, there are plenty to choose from.
PS: we are also preparing a video in which some things will be further explained and shown. But this time it's going to be quite a long video and with subtitles on top of that, so it's going to take some time to finish it. Thank you for understanding ;-)