Crimson Trace Hardline 3-12X42 Riflescope

It wasn’t too long ago that imported and economically priced scopes were looked down upon by the American shooting public, I remember seeing quite a few of these less expensive brands being raked over the coals as junk. Some of it was warranted, while some of it was simply a perception of inferiority. Don’t take this the wrong way, there is nothing better in my eyes than a quality built riflescope made by the best companies here in the US, or our good friends from central europe. But there are great optical options to be had nowadays that are built elsewhere, and they are being made by American companies that we are quite familiar with.
Today we are going to discuss a riflescope from Crimson Trace, and to be completely transparent here, I didn’t even know they made riflescopes. That was until I picked this one out of a line-up.

The Crimson Trace Hardline Series are marketed towards the tactical and sport shooters, they are priced lower than Crimson Trace’s Hardline Pro scopes which enjoy a few more high end features. The scope in hand today is the Hardline 3-12X42, it features a 30mm tube, MRAD turrets, the MR1 MIL reticle, and as you might imagine they come with other standard features like multi-coated lenses, nitrogen purged, and waterproof. They also feature a warranty that is fast becoming the standard, and that is a no-nonsense lifetime warranty that won’t ask for receipts, registrations, or money. Yes that is a great kind of warranty to have, but nonetheless it remains one we don’t want to use.

When the Hardline arrived I was eager to open the box and see what waited for my eyes. I must say that I wasn’t sure what to expect as I was previously unaware of Crimson Trace’s scope line. But as I immediately raised the scope to my eye, I knew this was something I would like. The optical clarity of this little scope was striking, as confirmed by a few fortunate passersby. Very clean, and very bright was the image from this scope, I took it outside to look down the street to confirm. This scope has a look that I very much like, that is that the scope body seems to disappear when you look through it, almost as though you are looking through a magnification bubble floating in the air over your rifle. I rushed home to get the scope mounted up on a rifle with plans to confirm a matching quality performance.

The rifle I chose to first mount it to, was a custom I had built a couple years prior. It is a 25 Creedmoor built on a Tikka T3, with a twenty-two inch Xcaliber barrel, mounted in a KRG Bravo chassis. It has been an extremely accurate and long-range performer. The rifle had previously been mounted with a Riton Optics 6-24 scope, which had worked well since day one, but it was time to change things up. I mounted the Hardline in a one-piece scope ring set, and put it atop the Tikka, in just a few minutes I was ready to bore-sight the scope.

The process of sighting in the scope got me quite familiar with it’s turrets, which at first I really liked. They do have a feature that I don’t like much, but is quite common. To zero the turret you pull up and rotate it back to zero, this raises the knob away from its seat, and the detents. It’s not a big deal really, I just prefer turrets that are mechanically seated and locked down with a screw. I cant help but think that just the right tree branch or bump could lift and turn the turret and mess up either your elevation or windage setting.
Other than that, I really like the turrets. The clicks are firm and audible, strong enough I believe that they will stay put hiking through brush. The MRAD turrets on my scope have 8 MILs per rotation, better than 5 which used to be more common among less-expensive scopes. I prefer 10-15 MRAD per rotation, which I’ll admit is a fairly meticulous gripe since most of my rifles don’t need that much elevation to shoot to the extreme end of their typical range. But for scopes like this one that do not have a zero-stop, I like it. Mainly because with 15 MRAD turrets you will likely stay on the same turret rotation for 99% of your shooting, thus avoiding the dreaded over/under miss because I dialed a whole rotation off.


Turret values appeared to be accurate, this rifle has very consistent drop values which means I could anticipate the hits at 600 and 1050 yards. Which came effortlessly after confirming a hard zero at one-hundred yards. I dialed up and down for many different ranges between 300 and 1100 yards, the Hardline kept up just fine, and the hits kept coming.

After running the Hardline on my 25 Creedmoor for a few days, I decided to swap it over to another rifle. I mounted the scope into a cantilever mount, and stuck it atop my Desert Tech MDRX, a multi-caliber semi-auto which happened to have the 223 barrel in it at the time. Back into the mountains I hiked, with my MDRX slung over my shoulder. When I pulled the rifle around to shoot the first time, I noticed that the scope was noticeably unclear which shocked me. I then noticed that the eye-focus ring Had been turned as I hiked by rubbing against either my pack, or my shoulder. Not good thing, but it also could have been the way I carried it. It was easily re-focused, and I was in the groove. In no time at all I found myself zeroed and smashing everything I aimed at. Despite my not caring for the pull-up to zero turrets, it sure made it nice and fast to re zero with no tools. Continue Reading Here…

The MR1 reticle features whole and half MIL marks on the vertical post, and .2 MIL marks on the horizontal. (Mule deer at approx. 400 yards)

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