I was hanging out at my buddy Alex's place the other night and had the chance to play around with a few different high end rifle scopes. Not all of them were his, but it was a good chance to compare different glass and try out some of the different features. This is by no means a professional review, it's more of a list of observations from a noob's perspective. In fact, it's really just more of a set of notes and first impressions, just a scratch on the surface.
From left to right:
S & B PMII Ultra Short 5-20x50mm P4L
S & B PMII 5-25x56mm DR P4L
S & B PMII 5-25x56mm LT P4L RAL8000
Kahles k624i 6-24x56mm MSR
Bushnell Elite Tactical DMR2 3-21x50mm G3
Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27x56mm EBR-2C
Nightforce B.E.A.S.T. 5-25x56mm F1
I know some of this stuff is pretty expensive, but I'm not up to speed on the current MSRPs, and had no idea how much they cost until after I played with them. I found that all of them were great scopes, but I probably wouldn't the asking price on some of them, just my personal opinion.
As we were indoors and drinking a bit, I won't bother going into the long range performance, tracking, or clarity of the glass, most of this stuff would be common knowledge to the pros reading this anyway. I guess for the other noobs like me, you can be rest assured that you probably won't have any issues with any of these scopes.
So, starting from the left was the Ultra Short. I had a Schmidt and Bender before, so I'm not totally new to them and I am very aware of the glass quality on these rifle scopes. The clarity is almost second to none, but one small quirk I noticed about my previous S&B and these ones was the slight tunnelling effect at lower magnifications, which seemed to be present on all three Schmidts.
The Ultra Short and the LT (locking turret) models also had a new feature some don't like, and that is a noticeably significant click at the full mil marks (1 mil, 2 mil, 3 mil etc). It's good in a way that at full mils, you can tell where you are without looking. The thing I found however was the .1mil clicks seemed less obvious and I found myself over-turning if I wasn't careful. When I wanted to dial .4 mils, I would end up at .5 or .6, sometime more, and I would lose track. Now, this is only a problem if you weren't looking and only going by feel, but to some, this may be a negative thing. The older DT (double turn) model, which was second from the left, had very positive clicks for each 1/10 of a mil and it was easier to count.
The next one over from the Schmidts was the Kahles. I had very little experience with Kahles scopes, so my initial impression will probably have the pros either scratching their heads, or sending my hate mail. It seemed like a good overall scope, no tunnelling effect at lower magnification, nice positive clicks for easy adjustments, but I didn't really like the location of the illumination ring, which was at the base of the elevation turret. It just felt weird to me, but I suppose it's a good place to put it instead of taking up more real estate and reducing the overall width of the scope.
I've also had a few Bushnell Elite Tactical DMRs as well as the XRS, and I'm a big fan considering the price. That being said, Bushnells are no longer necessarily a cheap entry into decent glass anymore and the prices on these things have gone up with the current generation. Still, the quality has improved over the previous generation and the clarity does seem better so some would probably agree with the price hike. No issues with the turrets, no major tunneling effect at lower magnification, not too heavy, good bang for your buck. This model did not have an illuminated reticle, but I almost never use that feature anyway.
The Vortex has basically no faults except that it's MASSIVE and it weighs a ton. I have one of these and it's sitting on top of a rifle that's already heavy anyway, so for me, it doesn't make that much of a difference. It's a rifle I probably won't be going on 13 km ruck marches with so I'm fine with it.
The last one I got to look at was the B.E.A.S.T. It's pretty massive too, but it's probably the tallest of the much, with that massive elevation turret. It's also got a weird switch between .2mil and .1mil adjustments. Not sure I'd use it, but maybe useful to some people. Due to the cost of this scope, I didn't really explore any other features and benefits this scope may have over other ones. For the cost of the B.E.A.S.T. though, I'd probably look into a Tangent Theta, based purely on reputation alone.
At the end of the evening, one of the scopes did follow me home, and that was the Schmidt and Bender PMII 5-25x56mm LT P4L RAL8000.
As mentioned before, I had a Schmidt in the past, when I first got my PGW LRT-3. I was really happy with this scope, but I was in a bit of a bind and needed some quick cash to pay for a trip to Japan. Ironically, I sold it to my buddy Alex, who had his eye on it for a long time before that. He had a few other Schmidts, DT models, but mine was the newer (at the time) LT model, and it had the TReMoR 2 reticle, which was also new at the time.
I told him I'd never sell it to him and he could forget it, but he ended up getting it. Then in return, he swore he'd never sell it back to me, and he would make it his mission in life that I would never have another Schmidt again (He knew I could never afford a brand new one at today's MSRP).
Well, fast forward a few years later and Alex came to me with a deal I couldn't refuse. Two PMIIs came up for sale from a buddy of his, both RAL8000, both LT models, one with the MSR reticle, and the other with the P4L reticle. He ended up with the MSR one because he had a few Schmidts with the P4L. I have two Steiners with the MSR, so I didn't mind the P4L. I would have preferred something with more of a Christmas tree like my old TreMoR 2, but beggars can't be choosers, and we got these two Schmidts at beggar's prices. He actually wanted them both for himself, but I guess he isn't a complete asshole, lol!
Anyway, the scope found itself on my BCL 102 (M110 clone), just hope I can get the rifle working and worthy of having such fine glass.