Category Archives: Optics

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

Crimson Trace Hardline 3-12X42 Riflescope

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Three Red Dots for your Pistol

Pistol shooting, like most shooting disciplines has benefited greatly from technological advancements. Incredible improvements have made todays handguns lighter, faster, more accurate, and reliable. One of these many improvement is in the sight market, pistols have long relied on the simple task of lining up a front and rear sight as you press the trigger. But today we will discuss the hot and competitive red dot sight options that are frequently replacing traditional iron sights. We’ll also look at it from the perspective of home defense use.

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Sig Sauer Tango 6T 1-6

Low Power Variable Optics (LVPO’s) have been flooding through the firearm market for years now, likely due to the proliferation of medium-range carbines. It didn’t take long for shooters to realize the value of variable low power optics, but what makes an LVPO shine over another?

Sig Sauer has long been a big name in the firearms industry, I’ve been a big fan as long as I’ve been a gun owner. So it came as no surprise several years ago when Sig brought their own line of optics to market. What was a surprise, at least to me, was how invested I would get.

My first Sig optics was a Tango 6 5-30, a high powered riflescope with all of Sig Sauer’s bells and whistles. It has been a great scope for several years, and still enjoys its place on one of my favorite rifles.

The 6T features Sig’s high quality, clear lenses for which they are well known. The 1-6 power 6T features a 30mm tube and a front focal plane 5.56/7.62mm/300 Blackout Horseshoe Dot ballistic reticle with illumination. There are a couple of different configurations for the 6T, the one I ordered came in Flat Dark Earth only. It also features a line lengthwise down the side of the tube, which eases the scope’s mounting by giving a reference point. This allows users to evenly seat the scope in the rings. A “cattail,” or clamp-on handle, gives the user better purchase when adjusting the magnification setting.

I mounted the Tango 6T in the Strike Industries ASM mount, an adjustable scope mount that can cantilever the optic out to several different positions. After mounting the scope, it was time to zero it — an easy task using the finger adjustable turrets. When not in use, the turrets are capped. I installed the CR2032 battery into the illumination turret and lit up the Horseshoe reticle. The 8-position rheostat has an off setting between each number and a push-pull lock to avoid accidental adjustment.

On the Range
My first impression on the range was the image. My eyes were swept from their sockets by the crystal clear and bright image. I am more of a 1-8 fan than a 1-6, but this 1-6 is so beautiful I would have a hard time turning it down for more magnification. The Tango 6T has parallax set to 150-meters, so shooting targets further out isn’t a problem.

This was very convenient because I ran the Tango 6T on two different rifles, both capable downrange performers. I first mounted the scope on the Armalite M-15 Comp Rifle, a match-grade competition rifle built specifically for 3-Gun. I found the M-15 to be very accurate, and with the Tango 6T mounted, it was a nearly unstoppable setup. The low power setting of the Sig made closer targets easy to engage accurately with both eyes open. Zooming in to 6X gave me enough magnification to pick out distant targets, while the Horseshoe reticle offered handy hold points for those distances.

I never expect ballistic reticles to match perfectly. It’s nearly impossible unless you are shooting the same ammunition in the same conditions as those who designed the reticle — the same goes for custom scope turrets. The good news is that it’s pretty close. Modern flat-shooting cartridges have a fairly similar trajectory so drop points on the reticle are close enough to be useful.

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Sig Sauer Kilo 3000 BDX Binoculars

Every hunting or shooting trip has a list of essentials, and at the very top of that gear list you’ll find things such as guns and bullets. But for many of us, it’s not very far down that list that you’ll find binoculars and rangefinder. Today we are discussing the Sig Sauer Kilo 3000 binoculars, which bring the laser rangefinder and binoculars onto the same line.
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The US Optics Foundation 25X

Many years ago, when I first stumbled down this rifled rabbit hole, I would daydream about the high-end and prestigious rifles I saw in magazines and movies. The internet had not yet become the superhighway it was destined to be, but as it developed I could also visit websites and court those beautiful works of art. Not only was it the rifles, but the impressive optical sights that accompanied them. My dreams of owning such a piece of artisanship seemed unattainable at the time, but I never could have foreseen just how far down this hole I would go.

Years would pass, more than a decade, and I found myself the proud owner of what I had always considered a dream scope. US Optics had always been one of the brands I was smitten with, maybe it was the incredibly robust design that seemed overbuilt for what many would consider standard use. On top of their strength, US Optics scopes had a mechanical attractive flair. It was like looking at top-fuel race engine, you could see all the little things that made it work its magic, and that enticed me even further.

That first US Optics scope was an ER-25, it was the first but far from the last. I’ve since had four more, with the latest being the newest offering from US Optics, the Foundation Series 25X. The Foundation series is USO’s latest line of top tier telescopic sights, made here in the US. The FDN25X boasts some impressive features, some you would expect, and others you might miss if you didn’t pay close attention. The 25X uses a fairly standard 34mm tube and 52mm objective, manufactured from 6061 T6 aluminum, it shares a nearly identical body with its predecessor the B25. But there is more, the FDN25X has the new EREK3 elevation turret with 11 MRAD per revolution, a 180-degree throw magnification ring, the new JVCR reticle (my favorite) with illumination available in red, blue, or green, smooth parallax adjustment, and an internal bubble level.


As I opened the box of the 25X and first picked it up, I was surprised at the weight. At thirty-four and a half ounces, it’s not exactly light but it seemed light for its size. I was expecting it to weigh more. I surely wasn’t going to waste much time, I wanted to get this scope mounted and get shooting with it. I mounted it on the rifle it was ordered for, my custom built 257 Blackjack. It is a lightweight carbon fiber hunting rifle to haul all over these Rocky Mountains for Mule Deer, Elk, and likely a few Antelope as well. The 25X makes a great companion optic for the Blackjack, it stays supersonic beyond two thousand yards, and its energy, drop, and wind deflection makes it ideal for long-range shooting. The 25X has been designed and built for just such shooting, with high-quality lenses to give a clear picture of distant targets. The JVCR reticle gives fine wind holds and holdovers, with .1, .2, and .5 subtensions.

JVCR Reticle detail, and green illumination

So with the 25X mounted in rings on a 20 MOA scopebase, I wandered off into the hills to get it zeroed and to put it to the test. Zeroing the scope was simple, the new EREK3 elevation turret was easy to figure out with a brief revision of the manual. I removed the center screw on top of the turret and adjusted my reticle with the provided hex wrench. After a couple adjustments, it was zeroed perfectly and my elevation set to zero. Normally I slowly work my way out from closer targets to more distant ones, but that day, I went straight for the long shots. The first shots after zero were 1230 yards, I dialed 6.5 MRAD on the EREK3, and fired a few shots. After getting the wind call right, they were hammering the steel. The EREK3 turret is a good combination of stiff, and crisp. Not too hard to turn, but firm enough to avoid accidental movement.

As it happens, my first trip out with the FDN25X was a shoot with Donald Trump Jr. He was impressed by performance of the 257 Blackjack, and the FDN25X

The clicks are both audible and tactile, adjustments are easily made from the shooting position by simply counting the clicks either felt or heard. The magnification ring is also a welcome improvement, with only 180 degrees of rotation, you can go from 5x all the way up to 25x with one movement. Instead of having to release and turn again like other scopes. It’ also easier to turn than previous models.
After zeroing my scope, I swapped out the scope base for a 30MOA, to get the scope closer to an internal mechanical zero (to avoid the extremities of erector movement). And with it freshly zeroed, the turret had a full twenty-one MRAD of elevation available. It is highly unlikely I will ever use that much elevation, according to my ballistic computer, twenty-one MRAD will take the supersonic Blackjack to 2159 yards.

The EREK3 elevation, and US #1 windage turrets

The JVCR reticle is one of my favorite reticles, I’ve got another one in another US Optics scope. The .2 MRAD marks are all over the reticle, giving a quick and easy reference for adjustments. The open center floating dot makes a perfect reference point when trying to shoot tiny groups on paper, and the open space around it will make it easy to hold center on any of the animals I plan on hunting this fall. I ordered green illumination on the scope, mainly because I’ve had red on every other scope I’ve ever had and wanted to see something different. I’m not overly worried about it, as illumination has rarely been used in most hunting scenarios I’ve been in. But for that occasional need, it is sure nice to have.

One little thing that I found that did bug me perhaps, is an abnormal crescent shaped shadow when the scope is dialed to either of its extremities. This is normal as US Optics has it listed under their FAQ’s on their website. To be fair, it is only visible at low power (less than 8x), and only when the EREK3 turret is almost all the way up or down. I think it is very unlikely that it will ever be an issue, because if Im dialed all the way up, I’ll very likely be zoomed in at least to 12x or more. And if it is an issue bottoming out the scope, then you’ll need to use an additionally canted base. Like I said, a small issue, but one you may want to know about.

The anti-cant bubble inside. When looking thru the scope and focusing on the target, the highlight of the bubble is seen at the bottom of the reticle

Another very cool feature of the Foundation 25X is the internal level or anti-cant device as it’s often called. I always loved the idea of having it inside the scope, but so many times its been done poorly. Not that I have anything against it being external, especially good ones you can see from the shooting position. But it is so much nicer to see in real-time, through your aiming eye without taking it off the target. The way US Optics executed this level is very nice, I ordered the internal level, but it is so subtle that I didn’t even notice it the first time I looked through it. It is tucked neatly at the bottom of the field of view, and like I said, its so low profile that you actually have to make an effort to see it. I’m not sure if the engineers at USO want you to look at the actual bubble itself, or if you are meant to see the highlight reflecting on the bubble as your reference point, either way, it is very handy when you’re in the shooting position.

I also tested the scope for actual click value, which can vary greatly in rifle scopes. I tested the click value by measuring the turret movements against the values of the reticle, as well as against a ruler at a set distance. By doing this you can tell if the clicks actually represent the value claimed. I’ve never tested one that came out perfect, but this one is close enough for my purposes. Under 10 MRAD of adjustment, the actual value was no more than .02 MRAD off of claimed. And at 20 MRAD, it was just over a tenth MRAD from claimed value. I am not a rocket surgeon, but I think its safe to assume that the difference between claimed and actual is spread progressively across the curve as elevation increases.
In addition to testing click value, while I had the scope clamped down solid I also checked the tracking and for reticle cant. Cranking the turrets up down and left and right shew no inconsistency, they always returned back to the exact same spot as I counted the clicks. No noticeable movement in the reticle either, as I zoomed from one magnification to another.

The only thing I haven’t been able to test so far with the Foundation 25X, is its durability over time. My First US Optics scope took such a beating I was sure it would break, banging into rocks, falling off the tailgate onto concrete attached to a twenty-pound rifle, stuff like that. But I was blown away when not only did it survive these events, but didn’t even lose zero. That is a pretty hefty standard to live up to, and I hope that the Foundation scopes are up to it. Time will tell, I certainly don’t plan on dropping it, or bashing it against rocks, but who knows what the future holds?

There is no way this rifle and scope aren’t coming with me for hunting season this year. The 257 Blackjack will light up anything I intend to hunt, and coupled with the impressive view from the Foundation 25X, it should be unstoppable. I am extremely anxious to get up into the high country, and get comfortable and effective with this rifle and scope. You will no doubt be hearing from and seeing more pictures of us in the fall.
-CBM