Category Archives: Optics

Steiner Optics T6Xi 5-30×56 riflescope

Being an absolute precision rifle junkie, there are a few things that get my excitement up. Besides precision rifles themselves, riflescopes are probably my biggest affinity. Today we are looking at the Steiner Optics T6Xi 5-30X56 riflescope, an American made riflescope by the international optics giant.
Steiner started mid last century on the American side of post war Germany, and has since been working on making the highest quality riflescopes and other optics they can. I have long been a fan of Steiner’s optics, though I have only recently been able to take one home for my own use. I was excited for the chance to shoot behind one of these scopes that I had fawned over for so long.

The T6Xi 5-30×56

The T6Xi is a variable scope based on a thirty-four millimeter tube, and up front is the industry standard fifty-six millimeter objective lens. The power of six-times magnification is where the T6 gets it five to thirty power range, which is no insignificant thing. The all important erector housing carries a great deal of additional features, twelve MRAD per revolution turrets with an intuitive turret lock. The elevation turret also incorporates a very interesting rotating number scroll to prevent you from ever being off a revolution on the turret. A typical side parallax adjustment knob, with the illumination rheostat stacked on top. Inside the erector itself sits the MSR2 MRAD reticle, after just a few trips I was quite pleased with this reticle and its subtensions. At the back of the scope there is the magnification ring to adjust the zoom from five to thirty power. In addition to the great features of this scope, it also came with a few extras I wasn’t expecting. Including a factory made throw-lever (or cattail) to make adjusting the magnification faster to execute, as well as a sun-shade, and Tenebrex scope-caps.

T6Xi Features

-6x Zoom Range
-Locking windage and elevation turrets
-Low-profile never-lost turrets
-Second rotation indicator
-Locking diopter ring
-Optional throw lever
-Tenebraex cover
-Illumination – 4 night / 7 day levels
-Waterproof / Fogproof / Shockproof

Mounting the T6Xi

I planned on installing the Steiner on my Desert Tech SRS M2, wherein I do most of my precision shooting. I have used a plethora of excellent riflescopes on this rifle, so I figured it would be a great match to see how it compared to the others I’ve used.
I mounted the T6Xi into a 40 MOA canted scope base, and leveled in on the rifle. My very first impressions were regarding the size of the scope, I prefer scopes that don’t come across as “dainty”. The Steiner was in my opinion just the right size, smaller than some but big and robust enough to stand beside most competitors.
With the scope mounted to the rifle, I set it on a bench and put myself to bore-sighting the scope. I grabbed the hex-key wrenches from the box to zero the turret once I had the rifle zeroed properly, all that remained was grabbing the rest of my kit and ammunition and heading into the hills.

On the range

In a short time, I found myself in my fortress of solitude. The silent and vacant white canyons of the Rocky Mountains are where I spend my free time, and this time of year the blanket of sound soaking snow are spectacular for shooting.
I had brought two barrels for my SRS, the first was a .223 Remington match barrel I planned on zeroing the scope with. Even though I get paid to shoot, I still try to save money where I can. Once the rifle was zeroed with the .223 barrel, I would switch over to my 7mm SAUM barrel for shooting at more significant distances that would actually test this Steiner’s abilities.
I was immediately enamored with the view through this scope, it was crystal clear and a beautiful image to behold. I typically avoid running scopes at maximum magnification due to the fact that many of them seem to darken or lose clarity, but the T6Xi was still an excellent view even at 30X. The MSR2 reticle was an instant hit for me, I love the tiny center dot. It made perfect aim-point definition easy, and in just a few shots I had confirmed a good zero, after shooting a quick five-shot group to ensure I hadn’t lost my touch.

After zeroing the turrets on the T6, it was time to run both rifle and scope out to some distance. In less than a minute I’d switched barrels to the 7mm SAUM, and I turned my attention to the distant ridge across the canyon from me. Snow had covered most of my targets, but I could still pick out what I needed to see.
My density altitude and the cartridges I shoot typically keep me from needing the second rotation of most scopes. Many of the cartridges I shoot will reach beyond 3/4 of a mile without even cracking the second rotation, and my 7 SAUM was certainly in that group. I was going to have to shoot beyond fifteen-hundred yards to dial past the 12MRAD mark on the turret.
But before I did that, I wanted to see how the turret values lined up with the known dope for this rifle. I tried a few shots at targets from five-hundred to seven-hundred yards, with very predictable impacts. Spotting impacts at those distances is important, which is why I typically use lower power settings on my rifle scopes when shooting long range. With the power set at about half I was easily watching the 150 grain Cayuga solid bullets impact, and they were hitting with good authority as well.
Increasing the distance to the target made spotting impacts even easier, giving me additional time to get settled back on target before my bullet got there. Watching through the Steiner I was also able to see the trace of the bullet as it arched up over the target one it’s way there. The MSR2 reticle was very useful at measuring and holding corrections, in my opinion it is a perfect hybrid of substantial subtensions, but thin enough not to become cumbersome. Continue Reading Here…

ATN THOR Riflescope

Being in control, or at least feeling like you’re in control of a situation seems to give us satisfaction in our outdoor adventures. Being prepared with weapons and the tools needed to go where we want, and do what we chose are a large portion of that feeling of authority over our immediate surroundings. Until the sun sets, when much of our dominance goes out the window.
Today we are going to take a look at some equipment you can add to your arsenal that will keep you on top of things in pure darkness.

ATN Corp has been in the business of manufacturing low light sport optics for nearly 30 years now. They have been innovating night vision and thermal devices in every imaginable way.
Today we are going to speak about one product in particular, ATN’s THOR 4 640 2.2-25X thermal riflescope.

The THOR

The ATN THOR 4 is much more than just a low light thermal imaging optical sight. It also has an incredible array of smart functions like built in GPS, blue-tooth connection to apple and android devices, video and photo recording, and even ballistic solver built into the riflescope.
There are other more simple features that will enhance your experience with this scope as well. Rings to mount it come included with the scope, low battery consumption make the power last longer than anticipated. And you can even get it in one of your favorite camouflage coatings. There is much more to get into on the features, so I’ll move along.

Unboxing

When I opened the box to see the scope inside, I was a bit surprised. The THOR appeared to be a complete unit, sealed and ready to go. I pulled out the instructions because I’m an idiot when it comes to tech. The directions were easy enough to figure out, but for added help for those of us who struggle they even added some stickers in various locations indicating the purpose and function of each control.

Control panel on top of the housing, note charging port and SD card slot

There was also things such as a charging adaptor and the mounting rings to install the scope on your rifle. After a few hours good charging time, I took the THOR outside to see what I was missing in the darkness. I have used other thermal optics before, and I was perhaps expecting a little bit more because of my previous experience. But to be fair, the units I was comparing to this ATN cost three to four times as much. So there is certainly a grain of salt to take with my expectation.
The THOR was excellent for identifying small animals around the neighborhood inside 300 yards. I zoomed the power in and out using the power wheel on the left side of the housing, and then focused using the rotating objective housing. The resolution was more than adequate for identifying and targeting potential animals.

In the field

I wanted to get this scope mounted and into action as soon as possible. Using the provided rings, I mounted it up on my Desert Tech MDRX 308winchester.
It took some getting used to, but after a bit I had the THOR figured out. I managed to get it zeroed, though it took me more shots than it should have. The “Nuc” feature was an important one to figure out quickly. As far as I can tell, it seems to calibrate the sensor according to the current field of view. I found that significantly changing your field of view would cause some of the resolution to vary some, and by cycling the Nuc feature on the new viewing area would bring back the image. There is also an “Auto-Nuc” that you can set in the controls to have the device re-Nuc itself every so often.
The display was full of information, possibly more than some folks may want to see. It kinda made me feel like I was looking through the heads up display of an F-18. Angles on both vertical and horizontal plans are displayed, as well as a compass heading. There are an assortment of reticle choices you can choose depending on your needs, as well as a simple menu that can be cycled through quickly using the buttons on top of the housing. I had already installed a micro SD card that is used to store images and video clips recorded through the scope.

The Obsidian 4 Application

It was time to get the Obsidian 4 application connected and running, this app is made and offered by ATN for the owners of their products. It allows details entry and customization for some of the more tedious bits of data you definitely want right.
It took a minute to figure out how to properly get it connected to my phone, but after watching a helpful video on ATN’s website I was in business.

The Obsidian 4 app allows you to customize the data used in the ballistic solver that comes in the scope. You can change calibers, bullet weights, velocities and other pertinent information used to calculate the corrections for distance. You can also watch through the scope remotely which is also pretty cool, there is a slight delay in transmission but you can see everything you need to see and record it to your phone if you like.

The app was easy to navigate, and update the information. To be completely honest I found it to be an incredible amount of customization, I am barely smarter than most primates and I was beginning to worry I was going to screw something up faster than anything. But in a short time I had it setup to my liking, and ready to shoot. Continue Reading Here…

ATN Thermal Binoculars THOR 4 2.5-25X

Thermal weapon sights have become extremely popular over the last decade or so, I’ve had the good fortune to play with a few of them. Today we are going to talk about a supplemental thermal device, one I think is just as useful as a weapon sight; the ATN BinoX 4T 2.5-25X binoculars.
I say just as useful because whenever I find myself in the dark looking for potential animals to hunt, looking around through my riflescope is not only cumbersome but dangerous. The BinoX binoculars allow the user to safely scan the surrounding environment to identify potential targets, and it also gives you additional information that will help you make a better shot when the time comes.
The ATN Binox incorporate a rangefinder, variable power settings, video recording and image capture, and even GPS location that can be used to keep track of fellow hunters in the area. An IR illuminator is also part of the device, which allows you to illuminate targets when using in conjunction with night vision optics. It also incorporates wifi that can be paired to your ATN riflescope through the ATN Ballistic Information Exchange (BIX). Using the connection you can also stream to a paired device for additional viewing while recording the stream to the SD card inside the unit.
The ATN Binox uses an armored housing with a control pad on the top with various buttons to cycle through the menus and activate the different functions of the binoculars. At the rear of the binos you have an adjustable diopter to focus the image of the display inside. The front of the sensor lens can be rotated to focus the thermal image of the target, the right side is for the thermal sensor, the left side houses other sensors and needn’t be adjusted for image focusing.
The Center button doubles as a “Nuc” button that resets the sensitivity of the sensor based on the current field of view, as far as I can tell anyway. You can adjust the power magnification of the binoculars by using the arrows on the control pad, and the power button doubles as a rangefinder trigger when the unit is powered on.
The display inside gives you quite a bit of information, with actual readouts of both incline and cant as well as a compass bearing. You can select to use different widgets such as compass and angle displays, or if you like you can keep it simple and see just the image. There are many different settings that you can adjust to better fit your needs such as different shades for showing heat, you can select different colors or shades of black and white. There are different reticles you can use for measuring targets and distances and such, and of course you can change the units from yards to meters and MOA to MRAD if you like.
The Binox come with an extended life battery, which I was happy to hear. Most thermal devices I have used in the past burn through batteries far too fast. There was also a neck band to carry the BinoX with, it was also easy to adjust the two ocular lenses to fit your particular eye width.

Into the darkness
After confirming a bunch of settings around the yard and making my dog uncomfortable with shouting commands into the dark corners of the yard, I decided it was time to take the BinoX into the hills and see what I could find. It took a few minutes to find a contrast setting that I preferred, but I settled on the “Glowbow” setting. As you’ll see from my pictures I neglected to set the time and date.

a deer as seen at around 20X magnification from approximately 250 yards

Once I got into the mountains I began scanning where I figured I would be able to find a deer or two, or perhaps even a unsuspecting hiker. I did find something that quickly became frustrating. There were plenty of rocks in the hills that appeared to retain a bunch of heat, this inevitably gave me too many false ID’s of potential life. When I actually did see something that was clearly alive and warm, it was pretty clear. But often times I would have to watch at some of the more distant targets to see if they moved before I could confirm their identity.
I spent some time getting used to the imagery through the binos, and testing out the different functions. It did take me a minute to get used to some of the controls and understand everything, but soon enough I was finding things and measuring their distance with the rangefinder and even snapping pictures and videos of them.

Much like properly viewing an ultrasound image, it seems there is a bit of a learning curve with looking at images like this. Oftentimes it is easy enough to make out trees, rocks and so forth. You can even make out sunny spots and shadows in the images taken during daylight. I have seen better imagery from other thermal units, but to be fair they cost significantly more than this one.
Finding animals in complete darkness turned out be be everything I hoped it would be, it reduced the eiriness of the darkness. Thermal optics have the benefit of being useful in the daylight just as complete darkness, which is a leg up over night vision optics. I found that using the BinoX during the daytime was also helpful in finding things that were alive in a sea of ambient temperature trees and hills. Continue Reading Here…

Sig Sauer Tango MSR 1-6×24 riflescope

I’ve been on an LVPO kick for a while now, I find them to be very useful for a great many purposes. Despite my focus on precision and long range shooting, LVPO’s still make up a good portion of my optics selection. Today I want to take a look at a new to me LVPO, the Tango MSR from Sig Sauer Optics.

I have had a couple different experiences with Sig Sauer Optics starting with the Tango series of scopes as well as another LVPO the Tango 6T. I have really enjoyed these different scopes and largely I have had few problems with them, so when the opportunity to check out this Tango MSR I was very excited to get hands on it.

Out of the box
As I opened the box, I was glad to see that Sig even includes a quality ALPHA-MSR scope mount in the box. That easily narrowed down my mounting decisions.
I will say I was surprised with everything included with the scope, and I’ll be honest that going in I had only a vague idea of the price of this scope. The mount, the typical tools that come with it, battery for the illuminated reticle, and some quality flip caps were also included. They are branded Sig but look to be either Tenebrex or a really close knockoff, either way they are very nice and lay flat against the scope when open. The MSR also includes a throw lever or “cattail” as its often called, this is handy for quick adjustments of the magnification.
The Tango MSR is a second focal plane scope, that means the reticle stays the same regardless of magnification setting. The scope adjustment turrets are MOA and have .5 MOA clicks, the scope body has a centerline painted on the exterior of the tube, to help ensure level mounting I believe and it surely did that. In a very short time I had the scope married to it’s mount and ready to install on a rifle.

The Tango MSR was a perfect fit for the Sig MCX
First Shots
I happened to have a Sig MCX rifle in hand at the time, it seemed like a perfect fit for the MSR. I was more correct than I could have known. I dropped the scope onto the pic rail of the MCX, and off to the range we went. The MSR seemed to be made for the MCX as I didnt even need to adjust the scope for a good zero, I just started shooting and everything lined up like they came from the factory that way.
I spent some time shooting the rifle at fairly close distances inside two-hundred yards, but I also utilized the reticle for a few extended distances. The reticle features a typical upside down horseshoe type reticle, with several drop points and wind holds. The name suggests that the MSR is designed specifically for Modern Sporting Rifles (MSR), and the BDC6 reticle is calibrated for the most popular MSR cartridge the 5.56 Nato.

As I mentioned earlier, I purposely didn’t look at the price of this scope before reviewing it. I was previously very pleased with the optical quality of the Tango 6T, this Tango MSR is not quite as high quality, but still very clean and clear. I was surprised to see the price point after playing with it, I would have expected it to come in the 600-800 dollar range. But for the MSRP of $422.99 I think this scope is a great value.
Testing turret values

I also bolted down the mounted scope to a bench, and measured the turret values against the reticle values which all checked out. The reticle values are handy to keep in mind, or you can refer to the owners manual where they are listed. It may not line up perfectly with the drop of your particular ammunition and atmosphere, this is why I typically don’t care for calibrated reticles. That said, if you know what value they represent you can use them for all kinds of shots and hold overs.
note MOA values of the BDC6 Reticle

Pros & Cons
In my opinion, the Tango MSR is a great little scope for its intended purpose. The optical clarity is great, the magnification ring is quick to adjust and its throw lever helps make it even better. The 1X power setting allows for easy both eyes open aiming, without straining to focus. The quality accessories that are included also greatly add to the value of this scope, the mount is a perfect match for the scope as are the the scope caps.
The only thing I would change about the scope is probably the reticle, I’m not a big fan of the horseshoe type reticles. Though it does have lots of detail to allow holdovers and windage etc. which makes it certainly a very useable reticle. I also wouldn’t mind having an MRAD version of the MSR, but to be perfectly fair it’s not the type of scope you’ll be dialing all over with so it’s probably fine.

The Sig Sauer Tango MSR is a great little scope. I would highly recommend it for anyone who is looking for an LVPO in this price range, it has a great deal of value added as well as performance capability.

-CBM

Sig Sauer Kilo 10K Binoculars

I’ve been severely hooked on both hunting and long range shooting for more than a few decades, so laser rangefinders are nothing new to me. I still remember saving up what seemed like an eternity to purchase my first one, an LRF I could barely afford but would actually hit a thousand yards and beyond reliably. All these years later my laser has migrated into a good pair of bino’s which are a must have for spotting animals in these Rocky Mountains. But the me from twenty years ago would never believe just how much else has migrated into the binoculars I carry.

Sig Sauer Optics
Sig Sauer jumped into the optics market with both feet, and like their products or not they have been innovating all over the optics world. They worked hard enough to earn my business a few years back when I bought one of their Tango 6 5-30 riflescopes. I have had the good fortune to sample a broad spectrum of Sig Sauer’s Electro-optics, enough so to become quite confident in giving them more hard earned money. The Kilo 10K is that latest purchase, a pair of consumer grade binoculars that feature arguably military grade functions. I decided that I was due an upgrade, and spent the money.

The Kilo 10K Binoculars
I have been using another pair of 10X42’s for the last few years, but a friend bought a pair of the Kilo 3000 binoculars and I quickly noticed they seemed better to my eyes than the binos I was using. The Kilo 10K is a significant upgrade from the 3000 model, with so many features I’ll have to keep it short to avoid this page taking all day to load.
Besides Sig’s standard features such as their Ballistic Data Exchange (BDX) and their various lens coatings and armor, the real juicy details are all encoded inside. The Kilo utilizes second generation Lightwave DSP ranging engine that has various ranging functions that allow you to range reflective targets as far as 10,000 yards away. I was dang sure gonna try that out.

Some of the data displayed in the Kilo 10K Heads up display

The onboard system also has all the sensors needed to calculate real time ballistics via Applied Ballistics Elite ballistic calculator, and instead of pairing to your phone application the Kilo does it all inside and gives you an incredible array of information right in front of your eyes. All this without ever taking your eyes off the target.
The internal systems of the Kilo also have compass and GPS functions, you can see compass headings and such right in the binocular heads up display, angles of incline are also displayed. And you can mark waypoints in your travels using the Basemap application.
The aforementioned Applied Ballistics (AB) software allows you to store up to 25 different profiles in the binoculars using their complete bullet library, so you can always have you favorite load cued up. The Kilo 10K reads all the relevant atmosphere information to give you a corrected firing solution with current density altitude conditions, and even includes a wind meter for accurate wind speed measurement.

Lets Figure this out
I was a bit apprehensive about having the brainpower to figure out and run everything the Kilo 10K offered. After reading through the manual a few times, I was less so.

The Kilo can be configured using the buttons controlling it, or using the BDX phone application. I went about changing a few of the settings to better fit what I thought I would like, it didn’t take long to figure out. The menu allows easy switching from meters and yards, as well as MOA to MRAD. The onboard sensors provide the air pressure, temperature and humidity. You can configure the system to automatically measure the temperature or you can input the temp manually if selected. You can also select manual input of other atmospheric data using the app on your phone.
The heads up display on the Kilo 10K is incredibly informative, giving you distance (both actual and angle corrected) shooting angles, and wind corrections as dictated by the bluetooth connected wind meter. I was very please to see that even a milling reticle can be chosen to aid in spotting for corrections.

Ballistic data is displayed both through the binoculars as well as on the phone display, this could enhance a fire teams ability to make quick shots

After several trips into the hills to simply play with and look through the Kilo 10K, I decided it was time to get serious.
I replaced the factory preset data that came set for a .308 175gr SMK, and entered in all the data for the 6mm GT I was planning on shooting. All the data is easily entered via the BDX app, and no sooner had I input my data, the Kilo synced everything up with the tap of a button.

The AB calculator uses a bluetooth wind-speed anemometer to capture the speed of the wind, temperature, humidity, angles, and all the other pertinent information is captured and fed into the system. One slight complaint I had was from the wind meter itself, it measures the wind just fine. But the direction of the wind has to be put in either through the app on your phone (faster) or you can also do it through a quick access menu on the Kilo itself. The quick switching nature of the wind makes me wonder how challenging that data point might be to maintain accurate. I was hoping there was a way to index the wind direction using the compass heading from the GPS.

There are a great deal of customizable options to change how the data is conjured before your eye. The heads up display menu was clear and quick to cycle through despite having to do everything using only the two external buttons on the binos. I have used AB for some time, so my confidence in the ballistic calculations were good. I wanted to see how the interface with the Kilo lined up, to see if it was as simple as point, laze, and shoot.

Hunting Country
On a blustery summer evening, I made my way into the Wasatch Mountains to do some additional testing of the Kilo’s capabilities. The storm front threatened to bring rain, but for the most part all I got was gloomy cloud cover. The high winds carried a visible amount of dust and debris, which had me concerned at how well the laser would reach. But I was quite surprised to see the Kilo light up with just over five-thousand yards, over two-point-eight miles away.
I decided to hit something even further still away, from my perch at over six-thousand feet (9,189 DA according to the Kilo) I could see my house below. I figured the siding would be reflective enough to hit at significant distance, so I pressed the button until it came back with a reading, and it did several times. Nine-thousand three hundred and fifty-one yards it read, that’s five point three miles away as the crow flies. I checked my Basemap app, to see that the waypoint popped up marking my house. Had I needed to, I could have just walked home in the dark using the Basemap as a guide.

I did some truing of the data in AB for my 6GT load to see that it lined up with confirmed data I already had saved. It was absolutely brilliant to see a firing solution populate in a second or so, with almost all the data I needed to make the shot. The GT shoots very well out to fifteen hundred yards or so, and I wanted to see how quick I could go from spotting targets to seeing impacts at various distances. So I played my mock hunting game where a suitable sized target is picked out, and I engaged it as fast as possible as if it were escaping. The trued data from AB via the Kilo lined up beautifully, allowing me to make hit after hit with minimal delays between shots.
If the system was utilized between a shooter and spotter team, you could put an amazing rate of fire on targets. With a spotter using the Kilo, you could range targets and have the firing solution show up on the shooters phone screen without so much as saying a word. Both could see the live data displayed, and as soon as the next target is identified that data would pop up on the shooter’s screen. You can even actuate the rangefinder from your phone through the app. Once paired, you can touch the range button on your phone screen to activate the rangefinder remotely.
I created a second profile for my favorite twenty-two inch 6.5 Creedmoor, just to see how to cycle between profiles. As with other operations inside the Kilo, it was quick to pull up the menu and switch between profiles and other settings. As I used the internal menu of the Kilo I got much better at changing rapidly the settings. Continue Reading Here…

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

SAI Optics 1-6X24 LVPO Riflescope

The only thing I like more than rifles, is riflescopes. If I could I would probably have two or three scopes for every rifle, each of my different purposes would utilize a different optic. I often make the comparison to women’s shoe collections; this scope might go well for a sunny day and a pair of jeans, and this other scope might be better for a dimly lit walk on the cabin porch.
But to stay on topic, today I want to focus on another great little optic that scope addicts like myself will enjoy. And that scope is the SAI 1-6X24 from Armament Technology Inc. (ATI), the same people that bring you the Elcan Specter and Tangent Theta.
With a heritage like that, I expected the SAI 6 to be a home run optic for a battle rifle type sight.

The SAI 6 is a one to six low power variable optic (LVPO), the one power setting is to be used much like iron sights or a red dot sight. The six power maximum is designed to be utilized in a longer range engagement, with the rest of the power spectrum to be utilized at the shooter’s discretion as needed. The scope features a calibrated drop compensating reticle called the RAF (Rapid Aiming Feature), it is available with drop curves for both 5.56 and 7.62 ammunition. The reticle is mounted in the first focal plane of the riflescope, this allows the reticle values to stay constant regardless of magnification setting. All this is mounted inside the thirty-millimeter tube, and MRAD erector housing.
The SAI 6 has many features very similar to other LVPO riflescopes, such as an adjustable diopter on the eyepiece, and a twenty-four millimeter objective lens. But it also has some features that set it apart, such as an included anti-reflection device that threads to the front of the scope. And seeing as how Armament Technologies Inc. also owns Tenebraex scope flipcaps, they also include the highest quality flipcaps to protect the SAI 6 from getting damaged or dirty. Another very welcome add-on was the tethered scope caps, a soft rubber-like tether captures both the elevation and windage turret caps. This is very handy when zeroing the rifle, as the turret caps never leave the riflescope, avoiding loss or damage.

The SAI 6 has set parallax at one-hundred yards, which is a good compromise for up close as well as distant aiming. The left turret houses the rheostat and battery that controls the illumination settings for the illuminated reticle, with ten power settings with an off setting in between. The scope’s finish is a very tasteful shade of FDE, adding yet another shade of FDE to mismatch your already multicolored rifles.

First impressions

As I lifted the scope from its box and straight to my eye, I was floored with how clean it looked. The apparent true 1X made looking through the scope completely effortless at one power, using both eyes open there was no aberration nor forcing the eyes to focus together. With the scope zoomed in to six power, the reticle detail became much more apparent, as did everything behind it. The clarity and quality of the image in this little scope is immaculate.
At six power I looked at the reticle to evaluate its utility. Off to the left of center is a range bracket series, which allows the shooter to quickly estimate the distance to a thirty-inch target or full-size IPSC target which silhouettes a human torso and head. Below the center of the reticle there is a familiar “Christmas Tree” type drop grid with accompanying windage holds that are progressively wider as distance increases. In addition to the windage marks on the horizontal posts there is a curious “X” shape surrounding the center of the reticle, I found this design to be very handy particularly with the reticle illuminated. The X tapers to the center of the reticle and reminds me of a twentieth century space sci-fi film heads up display, like the image of young Skywalker’s X-wing being targeted by a Tie-fighter. It does so without blocking out much of the target like some of the Chevron or horseshoe reticles do.

Mounting the SAI 6
Enough about the reticle for now, it was time to get this Canadian beauty into a set of rings so I could shoot with it. I chose an ADM 30mm scope mount for this scope, as it would easily facilitate rapid movement between the several rifles I intended on shooting. With the scope plumb and torqued, I mounted it up on my Desert Tech MDRX and headed to my Rocky Mountain hide.
I bore-sighted the rifle and fired a few shots. It was then that I first removed the tethered turrets from the scope, underneath I found some very clean a solid looking adjustments.

Shooting with the SAI 6
The turrets were easily adjusted using just my fingers, and after a few corrections I was zeroed. My MDRX was chambered in 223 that day, so I set to shooting with the SAI 6 to see how the drop corrections lined up. I’m not a huge fan of calibrated reticles, inasmuch as they are only calibrated for a specific ammunition and atmosphere. That said, they can be very close in many occasions, and even if they are not one need only figure out the true value of the drop points. For example the SAI 6 has drop points for three, five, seven, and eight hundred yards. While they may not be perfect, the three-hundred might actually be two-hundred and eighty yards. And the seven hundred may not be exactly seven-hundred, but more like seven-fifty. The important part is that you figure this out using the ammunition you use most frequently, and keep the atmosphere in mind.
The drop points on the RAF reticle were very useful, and not so thick as to obscure the target area. I was able to use them for engaging targets out to six-hundred yards, and the wind hold-off’s were also very handy to counter the effects of wind downrange.

I also mounted the scope on a typical AR-15 type rifle, where I was able to repeat the process of zeroing the scope, and engaging a bunch of different targets. One thing that stood out as I shot was the outstanding view through the SAI 6. Regardless of power setting it has a beautiful image that is very useful for identifying targets and seeing hits and misses. ATI manufactures at throw lever or “cat-tail” as many call them that gives the user more purchase for quickly adjusting the magnification setting of the scope. Also while speaking of accessories, the ARD shade that came with the scope is very handy at keeping sun out of your scope, and protecting the objective lens. But like most honeycomb type ARD’s, it also robs the scope of some light, and reduces the image somewhat. This is not a big deal, but something you should know if you plan on using it.

Conclusion

The SAI 6 has an MSRP of $1290.00 which sure seems like an easier sale than its closest two competitors. I have used both the Vortex Razor 1-6 and the Sig Sauer Tango 6, and I really like both of them. But the SAI 6 comes in at a lower price and for me the reticle seals the deal.
If you are looking for an LVPO or battle rifle sight like this, you would be foolish not to look into the SAI 6. The only thing I would change if I had a wish was to make it into a 1-8, as I like to have a few more X’s in case things get far away. Or even better, if ATI is listening, how about a 34mm version 1-10x? Then I would be happy to have both of them.

-CBM

The US Optics Foundation 17X

I love a good riflescope, one of the great things about having so many guns is getting riflescopes to go with them. The challenging optics market continues to push for the perfect scope, the one that has everything. Despite their best efforts, there are just too many eyes to please which leaves consumers to pick and choose the features that they find most useful. I say most useful, but there is also an associated cost with all these features. It is not uncommon to spend two to three times the cost of a rifle on the scope that goes with it. So there is a great deal of settling for when it comes to general consumers, for example choosing scopes in the 1000-1500 dollar range with similar features to a scope that costs twice that much.
I find myself lucky to live and work in a world that can help justify some of the best equipment available. And being a bit of a scope junkie, one place I enjoy some of the finest products is on the glass that sits on my rifles. I have used many of the best brands, but today as you might have guessed from the title we are looking at my latest purchase from US Optics.

The Foundation 17X
The Foundation series of riflescopes is US Optics premier line of US made sights. I’ve had several US Optics scopes over the years, last year was my first dip into the Foundation series with my Foundation 25X. And after running that scope hard for over a year now, swapping it between multiple rifles, and packing it all over the Rocky Mountains from here to nearly Canada. It has hit the top of my list, always keeping zero, and precise adjustments have kept me always on target. I’ve used it hunting everything from antelope on the plains of Wyoming, to the dark bears of Montana’s Kootenai Forest, and the elusive elk of the Uinta Mountains.
I’ve also been running 5-25’s for some years now, and I wanted to try something different. Particularly because I rarely use them on maximum power for anything other than inspecting potential targets, so the next obvious choice for me was the Foundation 17X.

The FDN17x uses the same 34mm tube as the other Foundation scopes, and at its heart is the ER3K turret above the erector. The third generation of the EREK system allows the erector to be adjusted with a center screw to the rifles zero, without moving the turret itself from its zero. This allows full turret rotation, and it also keeps all turret movement in the up direction from its stop. Unless of course I’m lost and barmy, in which case someone will be along to correct me in a few seconds.
The objective lens on the FDN17x is a modest 50mm, slightly smaller than its bigger sibling. The windage is controlled with a capped US #1 windage knob, and it stays capped for the most part as I rarely dial any wind once I have a zero. Another standard feature of the Foundation series is the illumination, using a simple and single button to power up and select brightness settings. I can count on my fingers the times I’ve really needed illumination, but I can also tell you I never would have made those shots without it. Everybody has red illumination, so last time I ordered my FDN25X I selected green illumination. And this time around just to be different, I chose the blue illumination. I’ve yet to decide which of the three colors I like the best, but its nice to be given the choice. Other improvements of the Foundation line is a shorter throw on the magnification ring, where one-hundred-eighty degrees of rotation takes you from minimum to maximum magnification.
Another great option I added on to both of my Foundation scopes was the internal bubble level. It is cunningly placed in the eyepiece just out of the way enough that you need to look for it to see it. From the shooting position you can simply adjust the focus of your eye and see the bubble and its markings to ensure your rifle is level without ever breaking your eye from the target in the scope.

Perhaps one of my favorite options with the Foundation series is the reticle choices, and I usually choose the JVCR. It is a Christmas tree style reticle, with just enough going on to not distract my brain from doing its thing. Subtensions as small as .1 MRAD are part of the reticle, but much more prevalent are the .2 and .5 subtensions.
The JVCR like most modern reticles gives the user a superior ability to spot misses and correct for them. The FDN17X and its siblings are first focal plane scopes, which I prefer over the alternative. The reticle always reads true regardless of the magnification setting, which allows you to easily measure and correct for a miss. Whether you dial or hold for that miss depends entirely on your preference, depending on the size of the correction I will often do either. Good reticles like the JVCR allow you to do exactly that without getting so much information in front of your eye that you can’t focus, or worse yet you lose your impact in the noise around the reticle.
Before mounting the scope to an actual rifle, I ran it through a few scope tracking tests to double check turret values and repeatability.

Mounted up!
I mounted the FDN17X into one of my 34mm scope-mounts, and leveled everything up. Bubble levels aren’t perfect, but they certainly can give you a very close to level mark. I carefully torqued down the scope rings checking the internal bubble level on the scope to see that it matched the bubble on the scope-mount, and triple checked them both against another level.

adjusting the zero of the ER3K turret

Then it was time to get it mounted up on a rifle, or a series of rifles better said. This scope was likely going to be one of my switch-around scopes, jumping from one rifle to another (I go through a lot of rifles). The first rifle I mounted the scope to was a Ruger RPR 6.5 Creedmoor, a great little rifle to wring out this scope and ensure it functions properly. Using the provided tools, I adjusted the ER3K knob to zero using my bore-sighting method. And after firing a few shots to confirm, I reset the zero according to impacts. Aside from this very convenient method, there are other things to like about the ER3K turret. I love the firm stop at zero, unlike the mushy stops from cheaper scopes achieved by shims, this thing stops on a dime. The large size of the knob gives you a very precise grip, and as you turn the turret to zero it stops hard. The turret has twelve MRAD per rotation, which for most of my rifles will take them out to their usable limits.
Today I was only able to take this little Ruger out to nine-hundred and fifty-yards, plenty far for sure, but not even into the second rotation of the FDN17X. As I am accustomed, I made corrections using the JVCR reticle, and using it to measure target sizes.
The clarity and brightness of this scope is superb, watching leaves flutter on the distant ridge made wind estimating more simple. Even at nine-hundred and fifty-yards picking out the soil rolling downhill from my misses was visible, as was the occasional snow flurry floating between my target and I.

Another day brought another rifle, the FDN17X was destined to end up on one of my MDRX rifles. This one has just received the 6.5 Creedmoor conversion kit in it, with a twenty-inch barrel and the new Blk Lbl Bipod twenty-inch handguard installed. The beautiful Tungsten Cerakote of this scope didn’t exactly match the black of the rifle, but I’m okay with that.
I quickly reset the zero on the ER3K turret using the Allen wrenches, and in no time I was ready to go. The 6.5CM MDRX is not quite as accurate as the RPR was, but still plenty accurate for many purposes. In the snowy and cold desert of the Great basin, I picked out a small white rock across a long draw. It was five-hundred and fifty yards according to my rangefinder, so after consulting my drop chart for this rifle I dialed 3.7 MRAD elevation and began evaluating the cold wind. My estimates put my wind-hold right at .6 MRAD, which is real convenient to hold with the JVCR. To me there are few things more satisfying than first round hits, and watching that first round pulverize the rock into a bright dust-cloud was exactly that. I spent an entire afternoon picking out little targets at varying distances out to seven-hundred forty-five and nine-hundred yards. I find the offset two-tenths sub tensions of the JVCR very handy and quick to make sense, this is particularly handy when you shoot in wide open spaces and mountains where the wind switches direction faster than a politician.

note bubble level at bottom of scope

Am I wrong?
As I said in the beginning, its hard to make a perfect scope that fits everyone’s needs. But I’ve found that for my purposes, these Foundation scopes seem to fit me perfectly. I don’t know if that means US Optics just nailed it, or if I’m past my prime and simply content with what I’m used to. The ease of use with the ER3K elevation turret, the clear and bright clean images through the glass, and no need for an external anti-cant level make this scope very user friendly. And though I haven’t abused this one just yet other than smacking it into a few rocks, I have no doubt it will be as robust as the other USO scopes that I have abused thoroughly.

another custom Remington used with the FDN17X

This scope is already lined up to go on several other rifles, I look forward to a bright future shooting with it. The moderate magnification and size will fit perfectly into a well used portion of my gun collection, and more than likely it will see some killing come this fall.

-CBM