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.
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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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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.