Kahles K318i Ultrashort Riflescope

When I was a child, I spent a good amount of time under the tutelage of my Grandfather. One of the many things I spent time doing with grandpa was shooting, he always made it fun and ensured that I came away having learned something. The very first time I heard the name Kahles, it was uttered my my grandpa, and probably like most Americans in the early eighties he pronounced it wrong. He said it just like you’d expect a cowboy raised in the desert would: Kales.
All these years later, I’ve managed to become quite familiar with Kahles and their high-quality riflescopes. Something I think grandpa would have enjoyed.

The K318 mounted on a Surgeon Scalpel 300WM

The K318i
Kahles is one of the oldest riflescope manufacturers in the world, so it should come as no surprise that they make a good product. They have taken over the competitive rifle circuit like a storm over the last ten years or so, and with good reason. The Kahles K318i is a more recent development from Kahles, its short length I can only assume was designed to be competitive with other short scopes from several other manufacturers. The short length of the scope makes it a perfect match for a rifle you may want to keep a little more compact. This without giving up much if any performance.

The K318i is a 6X variable zoom optic, it utilizes a thirty-four millimeter tube with a fifty millimeter objective. The K318i utilizes many of the same features found in other top-tier Kahles scopes; features like first-focal-plane reticles, MOA & MRAD models, an illuminated reticle, and the ability to choose which side of the scope you want the windage turret on. And the choice of which direction you want said turret to rotate. Quite a few options there if you are a finicky shooter, I myself am pretty easy going, so however it comes to me is perfectly suitable.
The reticle itself is also an option you can select, mine came with the SKMR2 which I think is just about as good as you can get. But there are other options as well if this one doesn’t meet your fancy.

Details of the SKMR2 reticle

Perhaps the most curious feature of this an other Kahles scopes is the position of the parallax adjustment. The adjustment knob is at the twelve o’clock position underneath the elevation turret itself. A larger knob with clear printed settings makes it very easy to set the parallax for whatever shot you might need to make.
Other features like a zero-stop and turret rotation indicator are also very handy, the indicator is a small red pin that pops up on the top of the turret giving the shooter both a visible and tactile indication of which rotation of the turret you are on. The elevation turret itself is a boastful sixteen MRAD per turn, which decreases the likelihood of missing your rotation anyways. It also allows the majority of practical shooting to be done without ever going into the second rotation of the turret. There is one last cunning feature, which is Kahles’ Twist-Guard windage turret. A free-spinning end to the turret prevents the turret from being inadvertently turned when rubbing or pushed into something such as a barricade.

In the Field
I’ve run many a Kahles scopes over the years, but I was just a little excited to see how this newer model looked. I have always been impressed with the optical clarity of Kahles scopes, and I was curious to see what this little 318 had in store for me. I’ve lost track of how many different rifles this scope has ridden in the last year, but they were not just a few. Like any good scope should, the Kahles was easily transferred back and forth, rezeroed, bore-sighted, torqued, over and over again. And it has never skipped a beat.
For a time the scope directed fire for my 257 Blackjack, a mostly carbon fiber rifle with a sharp recoil impulse that is lightning on animals. It also spent some time on my SRS M2, getting a large variety of testing on various calibers like 300 and 338 Norma. In more recent adventures the chubby little Kahles was the scope of choice for my Tikka T3 TACT A1 in .260 Remington, which made an unstoppable combination. At the moment the scope is mounted on a Bergara BMP 6.5 Creedmoor where it has been for the last month or two. Wherever I put the K318 it seems to shine, I love the moderate magnification range. I rarely set my scopes above 16X unless I am looking at or shooting something really far out there. For average everyday shooting inside a thousand yards I find the 3-18X range to be ideal.

Picking out small targets on distant hillsides is not hard with the bright and clear image from this scope. The impressive transfer of the image from across the canyon to my retina comes with great ease. The eye-box is plenty forgiving for my taste, I’ve only used it on one rifle that didn’t have an adjustable comb. Nevertheless I always found the scope easy to get behind, and very quick to ascertain a good full image.
Shooting the K318 in the field I was quickly enamored with the turret tension and detents, just easy enough to turn without becoming a problem. And the clicks are crisp and audible, I can almost feel it in my cheek-bone as I look through the scope. The zero-stop on Kahles scopes has always befuddled me, there is always four clicks under zero. Perhaps there is a reason to which I’m not privy, but it seems like it would be better to just stop at zero.
The illumination turret is opposite the windage turret on the erector housing, it is a variable rheostat so there are no numbered settings like many other brands. The brightness of the reticle increases as the knob is turned. The SKMR2 reticle is particularly useful for field shooting, where corrections and holdovers are needed. With .1, .2, .5, and 1.0 MRAD subtensions to use for various measuring purposes, and even-numbered graduations for those significant hold-points.

The 318 at home on a Tikka T1X .17HMR

Pros vs. Cons
I know it says pros vs. cons just now, but I have had a hard time finding anything to hold against this scope. With a street price around $3350.00 I guess you could say the cost is a bit of a challenge for many people, but if you are in the market for a scope like this you probably were ready for that price before you got here. Being that the 5-25X sibling to this scope is only an additional $200, it almost seems a premium to pay this much for “less” scope, but again I think prospective shoppers for these scopes know what they are getting into. The K318 is no lightweight, at just over 33 ounces it is heavier than many of its competitors. But said competitors also don’t boast as many feathers in their cap either.
Pretty much everything else about the scope is as advertised, the very robust turrets are accurate and repeatable. The optical clarity is as good as any scope I’ve ever used, particularly with lower light conditions. Granted, the lower power range tends to give the appearance of brighter image than comparable larger magnification scopes. Generous adjustments and solid construction just seem to make this scope feel bulletproof.

Final comments
If you haven’t gotten on the Kahles train, its worth your time even if it’s just for a few stops. I think there is good reason and evidence as to why so many competitors and pro’s use the Kahles line of precision optics, I’ve run this scope all over the mountains, and I’m not easy on equipment. The scopes perform like a professional scope should, I think that whether you are engaging steel targets in world class competition or shooting with lives on the line, you will be happy with this one. The short and compact K318i will likely never leave my collection, its just that good.

-CBM

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