Category Archives: Optics

Sig Sauer Tango Series Electro Optic

When a company like Sig Sauer jumps into the optics market, paying attention is a must. I was more than happy to get my hands on a couple specimens early on, and I was very happy with my purchase.
The Sig Sauer Tango line of optics is marketed towards precision shooters, long-range shooters, and hunters, as well as tactical marksmen in the LE/MIL community. I’ve been exposed to quite a few good optics in that realm, so I wanted to see how Sig stacked up.

For the purpose of this article, I will be comparing two of the Tango series of riflescopes. One is the Tango 4 which is a 4-16X44, the other is a Tango 6 5-30X56. The comparison will simply be an evaluation as these scopes are peers of different levels and price points.

The Tango 6 seen on my Desert Tech MDR 6.5 Creedmoor

Features
For starters, let’s look at the features they share, then we will look at them individually.
All Tango series scopes feature Sig’s HDX coated lenses for optimal light transfer, waterproofing, Lock-Down turrets, and one free laser-etched turret that is matched to your custom load data and atmospheric conditions.
Both the T4 and T6 are Front Focal Plane (FFP) optics, which means the reticle is placed after the magnifier inside the scope. This means the reticle will grow and shrink with the magnification setting. I prefer this configuration as it makes reticle usage more uniform, regardless of the power ring setting.
Both scopes are available with the MRAD/Moa milling reticle, or the Mrad/Moa DEV-L reticle, for those that prefer one system over the other.
The T4 and T6 also have the available MOTAC™ (Motion Activated Illumination) that initiates when motion is detected and shuts off when motionless.

The differences between the two scope are probably where most people are going to make a choice. The T4 is a 4X scope, and the T6 is a 6X, the T6 allows a wider choice of magnification from 5X all the way up to 30X. The T6 also has a larger diameter tube, it’s 34MM tube allows the T6 a greater internal adjustment range. To this larger tube is owed the 12 MRAD (30 MOA) per revolution of the turret. The slightly smaller T4 has a 10 MRAD (25 MOA) of adjustment per revolution of the turret. The 4X magnification on the T4 also gives it a shorter magnification range of 4-14, depending on your application these two different ranges of adjustment could make your choice for you.

The Tango 4 mounted to my Tikka T3 25 Creedmoor

The T6 that I purchased, also features Sig’s Level-Plex anti-cant system. It is a digital system that uses internal sensors to tell you when the scope is level or not. When engaged (by pushing the outer end of the parallax turret) there are two small illuminated arrows visible through the reticle. You simply adjust the cant of your rifle following the indicators, and when the rifle is level the indicators go dark, showing that the rifle is level. It is a simple and very quick to use system.

On the Range

Turret and other control detail on the Tango 6

Shooting the Tango 4 and 6 made me like them even more. The overall clarity of both scopes was very good, and the bright images made target acquisition and spotting hits and misses a piece of cake. Whether in the bright midday sun or in the waning light of evening, I found the scopes presented more than a satisfactory image.
I did find that for shooting groups that I really appreciated the 30 power magnification of the T6, and the DEV-L reticle provided very precise measurements for both corrections and wind holds. The simpler MRAD Milling reticle in the T4 was also very useful for those who might want a reticle that isn’t so busy. And the lower magnification of the T4 made it a great option for my hunting rifle. Lighter, smaller, and easier to quickly bring onto target.
The process of zeroing the scopes, and setting the zero stop was simple, quick, and effective. In no time I had them zeroed, and was dialing them up and down for distant shots. The Level-Plex system on the T6 proved to be very handy in the field, a simple push of a button engages it, and I never had to take my eye off the target. And it turns itself off after a few minutes. I also like the locking turrets on the scopes, raising them unlocks the turret for smooth rotation, and once set, you can push them back down to lock them in place and avoid accidental adjustments.
If I had to say I didn’t like anything about the scopes, it would probably be regarding the sliding up and down of the turret. I have no basis to prove this theory other than feel, but it seems that when the turret is raised it is not as firmly supported. It feels as if you were to knock it against something hard in the up/unlocked position it could be easily broken. Again, I have no evidence to prove that, it is just a simple observation. To be fair it feels rock-solid when it is down in the locked position.
Perhaps the only other gripe I have is likely a simple defect that is easily repaired. The two fiber optic illuminators that indicate the setting on the power ring seemed to be poorly mounted on my T6. One of them came out and was lost, not a big deal, but something worth noting. I usually don’t focus too hard on the actual setting of the magnification ring anyways, I just adjust it till it looks right to my eye, and shoot.

Conclusion

I think that both of these Sig Sauer optics are fantastic scopes, they definitely come in at two different price points so you can pick one the one that best fits your budget. The T4 at its $719.99 MSRP is a great competitor for the sub $1000 FFP Milling reticle scope market, I think it would compete very well against any scope in that group. The larger and much more expensive T6 MSRP $3,119.99 (as tested) is in another group altogether. I would say pending a few more hard trips into the rugged mountains, and it surviving the beating therein, I would put it against any scope in the 2k to 3k dollar range. The quality is there for sure, the only concern I have yet is with durability over time, but so far I have no reason to think it won’t
clear that hurdle as well. It is quite clear that the engineers at Sig Sauer Electro-Optics took great care in every little feature, whether it is the griping surfaces of adjustment knobs, or something as simple as aesthetic angles and accessories. And with an unlimited lifetime warranty, you can confidently put one of these scopes to work today.

-CBM

Nikon Monarch 82ED-A Fieldscope

I do a fair amount of glassing on average, not just for hunting but also for target shooting. The Rocky Mountains tower over my home to the east and the animals I hunt are tantalizingly close. I found it necessary to get a good spotting scope, a good multi-purpose scope that would suit both my hunting and target shooting needs. Is it possible for one scope to do everything? I’d like to think I found one that can.

Features
The Nikon Sport Optics Monarch Fieldscope boasts an 82MM objective lens, which gathers every detail of the landscape before it. The image is reflected through a coated prism in the aluminum body of the scope. There is a focus ring around the body that allows the user a tactile touch to finesse the image into perfect clarity. At the rear of the scope, you find the angled eyepiece, and that is where the magic happens.

The quick-release of the eyepiece allows you to use any of the available eyepieces from Nikon. There is a 20-60 power option, a 30-60 power option, or my favorite, the 30 power option with either the FX Mrad reticle or the FX MOA reticle. The same reticle I use in my riflescope is now in my spotting scope, giving me the ability to call misses and judge distances with exactness.

Having two eyepieces would be a bit superfluous, but it sure is luxurious to be able to zoom in to sixty power and inspect a nice buck. Then swap over to a thirty power eyepiece with a reticle so I can measure his spread if that’s what you want. I love the 20-60 zoom eyepiece, but my shooting style would find the reticle more useful than the extra power.
The fixed thirty power eyepiece does have a focus ring around it, this focuses the reticle against the target giving the user the best possible image to call shots, measure adjustments, as well as range targets.

The angled eyepiece is complemented by a rotating body, giving you several angle options. There is a set screw on the side that allows the scope body to rotate 360 degrees, offsetting the angle to whatever suits you. The body has a spring detent to hold the scope every 90 degrees during the rotation.
The scope also has the extendable shade around the objective. I like shades for two reasons, one is obvious, keeping direct sunlight from coming into your view while glassing. The other is to keep dirty hands and fingers away from the lenses.

The Monarch Fieldscope also came with a nice bikini-style soft cover that zips over the scope body. It also has soft plastic lens covers to protect the glass which goes on under the snap over lens covers, to double up on your protection.
It also comes with a shoulder strap should you want to carry it that way, though I think I am more comfortable carrying it in my pack. The only gripe I might have with the cover is that it limits your ability to rotate the scope body, its not much of a gripe as I feel I won’t use that feature very often.

The FX MRAD reticle is a very good companion to the Monarch Fieldscope. Some reticles can get pretty busy, leaving some observers feeling a little cluttered. The FX MRAD reticle is a perfect mix of simplicity and subtensions, it has both whole, halves, and .2’s all represented on all four posts. Whole MIL’s are only numbered on the evens to simplify, and there is even a small one MIL square in the lower right quadrant that has .1’s both vertical and horizontally.

The FX MRAD reticle as seen through the Monarch Fieldscope

In The Field
Taking the Monarch Fieldscope into the Rocky Mountains was a long-awaited venture for me. I couldn’t wait to see how my favorite varmints looked through this scope, and to see how well it would function as my main spotter.
A couple of my very good friends came along with their rifles, and we took shots from six hundred yards all the way out to fourteen hundred yards. The Monarch performed my every expectation, allowing me to see all the little details of hits, misses, and all the trace as well. I glassed across miles of canyons and shady draws, and pictures just don’t do it justice. As my friend crossed over a ridge spine some three miles away, the light was just right as I watched him stop to look at flowers, and even pick one. Clarity is absolutely top-notch with this scope, I cant wait to take it on a mature bull Elk hunt this fall.

Conclusion
I’ve used many high-end spotting scopes from most of the big names, and to be fair, I have loved every one of them. They all have a few things that I like, and a few that perhaps I would change. The Monarch Fieldscope is right up there with most all of them, the image quality is outstanding, and with it’s multiple eyepiece offerings it leaves many scopes of significantly higher price far less desireable to at least this frequent user.

I can’t imagine what it would cost to build a scope like this out of carbon fiber or something similar, but reducing the weight of it seems like one of the only things I could change to make it even better. But until they do, I will be transfixed behind this eyepiece, enjoying the view.

CBM

Nikon Black FX 1000 4-16X50 Riflescope

What a time to be alive! Shooters have so many good options to choose from these days, the variety makes this fat kid feel like he’s in a candy shop. Today I’d like to tell you about another great product that followed me home, it wouldnt be as significant if it hadn’t kicked out a long time inhabitant of my safe.

Ive said it before, the optics game is a vigorous one, but thats good for consumers like us. With so many great companies fighting for our dollars, there is almost without question a good option for every budget and application.

I bought my first Nikon Rifle scope many years ago, it was a slightly used Buckmaster 4-14. I mounted it on my old 25-06 and used it to kill both my first deer and my first elk. I hope your sitting down, but in my humble and true opinion, Nikon has always made some great optics. There have been times where they were behind, and they may not have had the best offerings, but for the most part what they made was of good quality. For a long time, Nikon was the best I could afford, and I made do with what I had.
Thank goodness times have changed, and like the times, Nikon has stepped up their line of scopes. I was introduced to the newest Nikon tactical scopes (the Black line) a year or so ago. It was an event for writers to see some of the new products. Nikon showed up with the Black FX 1000 line of scopes, they feature a 30mm tube, first or second focal plane reticles, and they are also available in either MOA or MRAD subtensions. Not only did they have these more modern features, they also brought the always high quality Nikon glass lenses that they are so famous for. That day we shot and killed steel at 1800 yards with the Black 6-24 mounted to a .375 Cheytac.
I could barely wait to get my hands on one, the scopes had everything I wanted in a sub $1000 price range. And even better than that, they were priced well below comparable scopes from other trusted names.

Setting the zero-stop

When I got my FX 1000 4-16 in the mail (after chasing down the UPS driver) I hastily opened up the package to get this party started. I already had a rifle and rings ready to go, it was a Winchester Model 70 chambered in 7 WSM, it’s sole purpose in life is to make elk into elk steaks. Within a few minutes I had the scope mounted, and I took it outside to bore-sight it.
Another great feature of the FX 1000 is the zero-stop, if your not familiar with a zero-stop, you need to be. After zeroing your elevation turret for whatever your zero distance is, you set the zero-stop. This is accomplished by loosening the three allen screws around the turret grip area, and lifting the turret itself off the top. Underneath you will find another knurled ring with another three allen screws holding it tight over a threaded stud. All that is required is to loosen the screws, and then turn the knurled ring down until it stops. Once you’ve done that, you retighten the allen screws and re-install the turret aligning it at the zero mark.

This feature makes it simple and reliable to return your scope to zero after dialing elevation for distance. The Nikon zero-stop is fast, strong, and clean. I say clean because it doesnt use shims or blocks like other scopes. These types sometimes can cause a slow buildup of friction as they lockup, causing a mushy zero, and unessesary effort to start or stop turning. The Nikon is completely opposite of that, it turns until it stops, exactly on zero, every time.

This young moose made good eye candy while testing my scope.

The FX-MRAD reticle is much simpler than many of the hottest reticles on the market today, and thats just fine. The reticle has plenty of detail for real use, without getting too busy or complicated. Subtensions with .2 MIL and a hollow spot on the half MIL marks is very handy when doing holdovers or wind doping. Numbered marks on the even MIL marks are also handy when you start getting further away from the centerline. Reticle’s have advanced just like scopes, many shooters like the “Christmas tree” type reticles that are popular these days. While I personally prefer them, I dont mind using a standard milling reticle such as this either. And for those who like an uncluttered perspective they are probably better.

With the scope now mounted, I was ready to hit the range, which for me is up into the snowy and clouded Wasatch Mountains.
My bore sight job was close enough to get us on paper, and with a couple quick reticle measurements, I had the rifle zeroed. Even with a zero cant scope base, the rifle still had 18 MRAD of its 25 available MRAD to correct up. On this rifle 18 MRAD will get me out to approximately 1600 yards, which is beyond where I would ever anticipate using it, so no worries there.


With ten MRAD per revolution turrets, its easy to keep track of which rev of the turret you are on. Even so, the turret base has markings for you to keep track of, something all manufacturers should do.
Speaking of the turrets, they are just stiff enough, and have a crisp and audible click. With a rifle as flat shooting as this, the scope will likely never dial more than seven or eight MRAD, but it’s nice to have more if you need it.

I also tested the turret values, I did this by measuring out 100 yards exactly, and bolting the scope into a vise. Then measured the click value against a yard-stick. The results were very pleasing, especially since I am so bad at math. The turrets were very consistent and repeatable, always returning to the same spot when I hit the zero-stop. And over the course of the 18 MRAD from zero to topped out, there was as little as 0.3 MRAD of disparity between what was dialed, and what the reticle actually moved. I’m no Galileo, but thats close enough for what we do around here.

The parralax adjustment was pretty close to the aligning numbers on the focus knob. I usually disregard the numbers and just turn it to where the image is clearest, and minimum parralax, so its pretty nice when they are at least close.

Lens quality is exactly what you would expect from Nikon. All images were bright and clear, even in lower light conditions as the sun faded. Very minimal aberration around the edge of the sight picture regardless of magnification setting.
And despite the cold blowing snow of the high Rocky Mountains, the scope never fogged up on me, though I did need to blow the accumulation off the glass now and then.

A great companion to any good rifle is the Nikon RangeX laser rangefinder, you can read more about it here.

Shooting with the FX 1000 was what you would expect from a good scope. Targets are easily identified, and the reticle was very useful for measuring corrections at distance. The texture of the magnification ring and turrets was a very agressive, I like the firm purchase it gives to your hands. And the firm audible clicks would make it easy to use even when wearing gloves.

I took the rifle all the way out to 1150 yards, I was hitting a little high at that distance, but using the reticle to measure the deviation, it was easily corrected. The 4-16 magnification range is great for these distances, enough to clearly see targets, trace, and impacts. While not being so magnified as to darken the image, and exacerbate every small movement.

I’ve tried to come up with something about this scope that I dont like, and to be honest I’m having a hard time doing it. The price point of this scope puts it in prime position for guys who want a reliable and tough riflescope, but who dont want to spend four digits. It comes with the prestige of Nikon, and their no fault lifetime repair/replacement warranty.

If you are working on your next rifle build, and your optics budget is around $600, you’d be ill-advised to not check out the offerings of the Nikon Black FX 1000 in either 4-16 or 6-24. I told you at the beginning that this Nikon replaced an old standby scope, the particulars aren’t as important, but I paid significantly less for the Nikon, and I feel its superior in every way.

I have used and played with many high end scopes, and it’s very refreshing to find such satisfaction at this price, for that I give Nikon a near perfect score.
That old Buckmaster was the best I could afford at the time, but the new FX 1000 will serve on many of my rifles because it is a perfect fit, irrespective of its cost.

-CBM

Nikon Black RangeX 4K Rangefinder

A good laser rangefinder is an essential tool for any marksman who regularly shoots any significant distance. Personally I learned the value of a good laser many years ago, and have carried one ever since. I’ve had a chance to use many of the most popular models, and today another one joins my collection.

Nikon Sport Optics has long provided quality optics to the hunting and shooting community, so I was happy to see one of their newest product show up at my door, the Black RangeX 4K rangefinder.

The RangeX features an OLED display, it has several brightness settings which include an auto adjust for surrounding light conditions. Simliar to many of its competitors, the RangeX also will give the user an angle compensated distance should it be selected. The RangeX has an available Arca Swiss compatible tripod mount, allowing the rangefinder to be quickly mounted and used from the sturdy perch of a tripod.
The response time of the display is very fast, not quite as fast as the laser itself, but .3 seconds is close enough for me. It uses a single CR2 lithium battery for approximately 9000 uses.

The display as seen through the RangeX, the X around the crosshair shows when the laser is activated.

Perhaps the most celebrated feature of the Nikon RangeX, is its distance capabilities. For some time, ranging beyond 1200 yards or so was relegated to higher priced LRF’s. But as the market has grown, there are more and more great options that will go well beyond what folks are used to. The RangeX is advertised as a 4000 yard maximum range, that is a very impressive statement, and one I planned on testing.

In my experience, the lower the price point on a rangefinder, the less likely it was to hit its maximum advertised distance. Unless you spent upwards of six or seven hundred dollars, you basically had a thousand yard rangefinder, and sometimes not even that. The best rangefinders are the ones that will range not only their advertised distance, but even beyond it sometimes.

To be completely fair though, once a rangefinder hits the two thousand yard mark reliably, I dont really care if it goes beyond. At least not for civilian use.
The vast majority of recreational shooting takes place inside two thousand yards, and those few that need more range know how and where to get it.

I started out the RangeX with basic simple ranging tasks, shooting down the road, across town etc. The simple stuff like inside a thousand yards was lightning fast, and targeting was easy. The narrow beam divergence of the RangeX (Vertical 1.8MRAD by .25MRAD horizontal) allows the user to shoot through gaps in trees, and between closer obstacles. This is a very handy feature for those like me who hunt in wooded forests and mountainous terrain.

The first time I took the RangeX into the mountains to shoot, I decided to stretch it out a little further. It was a cold February afternoon, heavy clouds hung tight against the Wasatch Mountains. Snow was falling at about 6500 ft, which wasn’t too far above my shooting spot that was tucked back into a deep and jagged canyon. Therein was plenty of real world ranging opportunities, rocks, trees, deer, etc. And all at whatever distance you wanted to try and hit them at.

I tried out the angle correcting feature of the RangeX, first measuring the distance to a target, then again with an angle corrected distance. Regardless of how far the target, the display popped up faster than I expected. The furthest I was able to range that day was 1978 yards, which was pretty impressive considering how much precipitation was in the air. Looking back down into town from my Rocky Mountain post, I ranged some buildings that were 2240 yards away.

Ive tried it several other times since, and have been able to reach out even further. The best I can do on rocks and trees is still about two thousand yards, but good reflective targets like cars, windows, and especially road signs, I have hit as far as three thousand eight hundred yards.

The tripod mount made the RangeX very stable, and easy to focus the reticle on targets. And with the various mounting solutions it could be configured however you want it.

The Nikon RangeX is a fantastic buy for the committed shooter, it gives outstanding performance at a very reasonable price. It is lightweight, waterproof, compact, and it gives accurate range readings very quickly. I haven’t hit the magic 4000 yards with it yet, but I’m at least several thousand yards from the park that Nikon knocked it out of.

-CBM

Riton Optics RTS Mod 5 6-24X50 Riflescope

The optics race is a nonstop fight to get the attention of prospective shooters. It has been exciting if nothing else to watch some of the developments over the past decade or so, particularly from a consumer’s point of view. But have there been any real game changers?

I am always on the lookout for good optics, as I am frequently approached by friends and others looking for good shooting options. And optics is one of those heavily fielded questions.
So when I had the opportunity to try out one of Riton Optics scopes, I jumped at it.

Riton is a fairly new manufacturer, I had hardly noticed them before getting hands on one of their scopes. That scope is the RTS Mod5 6-24X50, it is a first focal plane scope, which is a must for me anymore. It has a traditional configuration with a side focus/parralax adjustment, an illumiated proprietary reticle with the rheostat ontop of the eye box, and a focus ring at the back.

First Focal Plane reticle

The reticle and turrets are both MOA, I’m more of an MRAD fan, but at least they both match. It wasn’t that long ago that many scopes were a hybrid mix of MOA and MRAD, thank goodness those days are gone.
I like the reticle, I found it very useful for measuring corrections and holdovers. Being an FFP reticle was also very handy, avoiding any kind of field math is a plus for my slow processor.

The turrets feature a push pull locking system, to keep them from being turned unintentionally. There are fifteen minutes per revolution of the turret with a total of 70 MOA internal adjustment, that is plenty of adjustment for the kind of shooting I do. I ran the scope on two different rifles, first on my 6.5CM MDR, a bullpup semi auto multicaliber, and then on my brand new 25Creedmoor, a custom built bolt rifle in an impressive new caliber. Both rifles shoot well beyond a kilometer, and the Mod 5 had all the elevation and power I needed for such shots. (Scope was mounted in a 20 MOA cant on both rifles)

While shooting the MDR I became quite familiar with the features of the Riton scope, though it took me a second to revert back to MOA.
Engaging targets as far as twelve hundred yards was no problem with the Mod 5. I am not a large magnification shooter, I usually have about five to ten more X’s than I need, but most of the time I shoot between eight and sixteen power.

I think that is where the Mod 5 shines, as with most scopes, you loose some clarity and brightness at the higher magnification. And in my experience, the lower the price point on the scope, the higher the disparity in sharpness at high magnification.
The Mod 5 was no different, I did find that at twenty four power it was a little difficult to pick out little details out past the grand mark. I solved the problem by backing off to eighteen or twenty power for those long observations. I also wish I’d had a sunshade for it, most of my scopes use one, and it is very apparent when even a little bit of sunlight hits the objective. Luckily, Riton has me covered, and Ive got a shade on the way.

I also ran a test on the click values, they were consistent, but slightly off. Over the course of the forty nine minutes of available elevation from my zero, the click value was on average 0.262 MOA. Again, thats a little off, but it was consistent. The good part was it returned to zero perfectly every time, and no significant reticle wandering or cant.
There was a time that I wouldn’t have trusted a sub 1000$ optic to be precise for repeatable turret travel in serious long range shooting, but technology has caught up it seems. And now scopes like this one are showing that not only can it be done, it can be done well.

The Mod 5 weighs in at thirty ounces, which isn’t necessarily light when compared to it’s competition, but its not particularly heavy either. For my taste, it’ll do just fine. I am used to hauling heavy guns all over these mountains, so switching to something this light was very refreshing.

I ran the Riton pretty hard, up and down, zooming in and out, hiking across mountains and riding up dirt roads in the bed of a truck, semi auto fire,  mounting, re-mounting, etc. No issues with it so far, it keeps right up with me.
All Riton scopes are guaranteed for life, with no hoops to jump, or rules to follow. Thats good to know, becasue we all know about Murphy’s Law.

There was plenty of things to like about the Mod 5. I like the reticle, and the the glass is inline with the price point, the internals appear to be robust and repeatable, with simple turret rezeroing. I will also say this, according to the medical practitioner, my eyes are in pretty good shape. So I tend to second guess my own approval of some optics, mainly because what looks fine to me, is usually pretty crummy when someone with anything less than great vision tries it out. I was happy that the Riton RTS Mod 5 got more than just my own approval. The clarity and quality of the imagery seen through the scope was exactly what I would have expected for a scope in this price range.

If I had to pick out the things I dont like about it, I guess that wouldn’t hurt either;
-MRAD for starters, its not 1987 anymore. I know there are some misguided souls out there still addicted to minutes, but the rest of us have graduated to MRAD. Having both options would greatly improve this scopes desirability to a larger audience.
-Turret rotation graduations, would be very helpful to see what rev your on.
-Parrallax, seemed a little off at times, not bad, but requiring frequent adjustment and checking.
-Magnification ring, the texturing was counterintuitive, making it slightly uncomfortable from the shooting position to zoom in or out. This is a very small gripe, and could simply be preference.

I dont want to sound too hard on this scope, because I actually do like it very much. Hunting season is here, and Junior and I have a date with several deer, and elk. I have all the confidence in this scope to get us on target, whether it be a head shot on a cow elk at four hundrd yards, or a high shoulder shot on a big cross canyon buck at eight hundred and fifty yards.

I look forward to a long future with this scope, and Im sure it wont be long till Riton brings something new. They obviously have the drive, adapting newer and better optics is inevitable. I’ll be waiting to see what that is, and I’ll make sure to have an empty set of rings available until it does.

-CBM