Category Archives: Optics

Sig Sauer Electro Optics Oscar 3

I am a sucker for optical doodads, and usually anything that is heavy and comes in a small package. That said, I’ve never been a huge proponent of large or bulky spotting equipment. Sure, there are advantages to them, but for the kind of shooting I usually do and am involved in, they are a bit more than necessary. Most times, another rifle scope of similar magnification and quality will do, especially if it is mounted to someone else’s rifle, who can tell what I’m doing wrong.
I do have a small field spotter, it works very well for what I need, and it has a handy reticle for making corrective calls a “breeze”. Other than that, the scope on my rifle, and a good rangefinder, I have never felt much of a need for more. Once again I was forced to challenge my own prejudice regarding equipment, when a friend handed me a small package with the instructions to “try it out”.

As I opened up the box which I had been told contained a spotting scope from Sig Sauer Electro-Optics,I thought for sure that I had the wrong package. But further investigation revealed it was indeed a spotter, just a more compact one than I had expected. It was the new Oscar 3, which is a handheld 10-20X image stabilizing scope.
Perhaps some of you are thinking the same as I did, “what good is a handheld spotter at 20X?” but having been surprised by Sig Sauer on more than one occasion, I decided to save my judgement until after a good field testing. I took it straight to the roof, and began scanning the neighborhood for hostile looking deviants. Like many other quality optics, the view and resolution through the Oscar were very clean, and bright. The warm sunshine that bathed the neighborhood made for crystal clear recognition of tiny minutia on a wide variety of prospective targets. There was of course, one pending issue. The problem that I had first imagined the second I heard “20X handheld spotter” and that of course was the inability for a wobbly twerp like me to hold still long enough to do any good while spotting. Even with my best efforts, it was difficult to hold still enough to read license plates at the end of the street, I could see the characters, and almost tell what they were. But the shaking caused by the slightest breeze, or perhaps even the beating of my heart, made it just barely beyond the grasp of my eyes.

The time had come to test the core function of this handy little scope, I reached with my index finger across the top of the Oscar, and engaged the stabilization function. I was amazed as the auto induced jitters quickly disappeared, and the picture I had struggled to see just a second earlier, suddenly became a floating image. A clear image, centered between my eye and the object that reflected it. No longer did I have to concentrate on holding still, instead I could focus my attention on interpreting the images. The license plates that I couldn’t read, were now steady and clean, not only could I read the plate numbers, but the state identified on it.

I had quickly become less skeptical about this little scope, and couldn’t wait to get it into a real field shooting position to see what it can really do. Easily operated, the Oscar has an adjustable zoom from 10-20X on the ocular end, and the focus is done by turning the objective end of the scope. The switch on top of the unit turns on the stabilization.
Fast forward a few days, and I found myself surrounded by hundreds of miles of Utah’s west desert. Myself and a few friends had made our way up the steep edge of a rocky ridge, overlooking a seemingly unending sage brush flat. Our quarry that day was any number of jackrabbits who called the sagebrush home. We had already spotted several, and knew they were out there, hiding among the brush. Their color matching almost perfectly the plants and ground that they inhabited. So many times one would spot a rabbit, and until it moved, you could never be sure what exactly it was.

It was time to put the Oscar to work, laying down in tumbleweeds and rocks to look through my rifle scope was just too cumbersome, at least to spot the rabbits. My rangefinder was handy, but with only 8X, it made target investigation a little tedious. The Oscar’s ability to zoom in to as much as 20X, and its image stabilization would be perfect for picking out the slightest movement. The quick nature of engaging rabbits made for some challenging transitions from a spotting to a shooting position. But one after another, we found the jackrabbits, sneaking about through the brush. Some of them were quite close, others were as far as three or four hundred yards away. The fate of the former was quite “dispersed” no thanks to my SRS, who has grown quite a taste for large rodents.
As the rabbit population either “aired out”, or burrowed furiously out of sight, and I sat there picking the rocks and tumbleweed stickers from my elbows, I continued to test the Oscar. Taking pictures of a nearby cattle herd through it, as well as scanning the surrounding area. The only gripe if any I might have about this little scope, is that when engaged, if you look really hard at some things, you can almost see a “boiling” impression. An effect I assume must come from whatever tech Sig uses to stabilize the image, I didn’t find it to be a detrimental factor, nor did it impede my ability to spot my targets.

I’ve taken the Oscar from the hot dry desert, and its mirage laden plains, to the snow covered tops of the rocky mountain’s peaks. The Oscar 3 from Sig Sauer has certainly proven itself to be very valuable in my opinion. I think I would even trade a good set of binoculars for it. As a hunter, I think it would be a very valuable tool to inspect potential targets. And also as a hunter, I can greatly appreciate the compact size and weight it comes in. Giving me an on the go kind of spotter, quick to deploy and keep tabs on a moving target. All while providing an outstanding image with which to judge by.
I wonder if, even with the image stabilization, would it be worth it to add a coarse reticle to the Oscar. To provide corrective calls and range/size estimations. I suppose that would be a question for the engineers at Sig.
As for me, I plan on keeping this little handful of help as close as possible, for as long as I can. It has already proved to be a valuable tool to keep in my pack, and I intend on using it thoroughly as this season comes in.
-CBM

Rangefinder Shootout

 

Rangefinder Shootout

rangefinders
One of the most important tools a marksman can have in his bag, is a good rangefinder. When I first started shooting, I didn’t have the money to buy one, neither did I have the sense to. Interesting how something seemingly insignificant would soon become indispensable. I figured a lot of these things out the hard way, the stupid way you could even say. Despite my hardheaded approach to distance shooting, I got pretty good at estimating range. A skill that was later confirmed by the rangefinder that had done without far too long.
By the time I finally purchased a laser rangefinder, I had at least gained enough smarts to recognize what I needed.
My first purchase was a Leica 1200, a good piece of equipment that served me very well. I quickly learned as I played with other rangefinders that good ones usually reach beyond their limits. While lower end units, wouldn’t even reach advertised distances.
As my skills matured, and distances became longer, I out grew that old Leica, and it’s since been replaced by a newer CRF model. I also stepped up to a Swarovski Laserguide, as with my Leica, the Swarovski reached well beyond its advertised envelope, reaching to 1800+ yards in the right conditions.
These tools have sharpened this shooters abilities, through day to day use, and confirming estimations.
Well, I was recently handed one of the new Sig Sauer Kilo 2000 rangefinders. I have heard many good things about this new line of optics from Sig. And this Kilo seemed like a big winner.
With an advertised range of 3400yds (reflective) I was very optimistic. In my opinion, it fell into that price range where rangefinders always underperformed. But even so I thought, if it reaches half what they advertise, it’d be worth the money.
I quickly made my way to my Rocky Mountain haunt, to put the Kilo against my Leica CRF1200, and my Swarovski Laserguide.
I’m a simple guy, I don’t care much for bells and whistles. So though the Kilo features an angle adjusted range, I switched it to simple range only. I can do field math, I like whole numbers, and percentages. I don’t need my optics to do it for me. Plus I like to know exactly what I’m getting into.
A quick run through the various rock piles in my cold and snowy canyon would tell me how well the Kilo measured up. 12790832_1704415849801909_8589088304493706408_n
At the quarter mile mark, all three rangefinders barely broke a sweat. My first impression of the Kilo was how fast it returned with a reading. Faster than my Leica, and twice the speed of the Swarovski. “This will triple the speed at which I miss my targets.” I thought to myself, “better slow down”.
I soon noticed a slight difference in color while looking through the Kilo, a bluish hue that was quite apparent (see pics). This is certainly not a big deal, at least to me. It was certainly lighter as well, easily placed in a pocket to be carried. The optical field of view looking through the Kilo was almost exactly the same as my CRF1200, the quality was comparable as well. Both of them were narrow compared to the Laserguide, which also had a better image I might add. But for twice the price of the others, it ought to.
I pushed all three RF’s one after another out to 1050yds, all three of them working flawlessly. And returning ranges to within +/-1 or 2 yards. Perfectly acceptable for a guy who’s targets are +/-2 or 3 yards wide right?
Up to this point I had to say I was pretty happy about the results. Simply because For most people I know, a good rangefinder that will reliably hit 1,000yds plus and cost under 500$ is a pretty good deal.12321320_1704415956468565_4349457969971441508_n
Well I had to push them further. The sunlight was fading somewhat as it hid behind the evening clouds to the west. I thought surely I could push the Kilo further, but to my surprise I couldn’t get it to read on anything further out.
I thought that perhaps maybe this Kilo couldn’t hang with my “higher end” RF’s. So I pulled out my Leica, and the Top hat it came with, and tried to hit the same rock. To my surprise, it wouldn’t read either. I suppose the light and conditions weren’t good enough for either RF to read. But before I put shame upon the two smaller units, I figured I’d check to see how the Swarovski would fair.
Sure enough, as usual, the Laserguide came through. Showing 1300yds. My suspicions about light angles and conditions were confirmed, as my Swarovski would reach no further in the cold quiet canyon. Leaving me scratching my head.
Further testing is warranted, and no doubt I will get more info. I’d like to see how far this Kilo will really go, I am skeptical that it will actually reach advertised distances due to my experiences, as well as those of others. None the less, I am very impressed that Sig has produced this RF for less than 500$ and that easily hits to 1000 yards and beyond. If I could go back to the beginning of my shooting career and sell myself this Kilo, it may have been one of the best purchases made.
I won’t be replacing my Swarovski anytime soon, but if I was in the market for a new rangefinder, for hunting, or practical shooting, the Kilo 2000 would be top contender.