October 15, 2018
No longer are shooters and hunters satisfied with simple optical reliability and clarity. Today’s cutting-edge optics offer those elements, but the real selling point is feature-heavy technology. Rangefinders reliably zap targets well past 1.5 miles; precision riflescopes provide sophisticated long-range features only dreamed of by yesteryear’s riflemen; combat optics tout active-use battery life rated in years rather than hours; and hunting optics are beginning to employ smart-device technology. Here’s a look at what I think are the most interesting new optics for 2018.
A reflex collimator with LED red dot, the new CompM5 provides 5,000 hours of continuous use on one lithium AAA battery. Dot size is a sharp 2 MOA, and the optic is compatible with Aimpoint 3X and 6X magnifiers, offering excellent sight picture for both close-and-fast work and careful shots at a few hundred yards. Turrets provide 0.36-inch/100-yard click adjustment. The CompM5 is extremely robust and is operational underwater to a depth of 45 meters. The mechanical switch offers six daylight and four night-vision settings. Each CompM5 includes an LRP mount and spacer. Weight is just over 8 ounces. Price:
Burris T.M.P.R. Prism Riflescope
The new Tri Modular Prism Riflescope is a compact, fixed-power optic in your choice of 3X or 5X. Touting a large field of view and trajectory-compensating reticle, three color options, seven illumination levels, and night-vision compatibility, it comes standard with a premium Picatinny-compatible QD mount. Rated to provide 1,000 hours of life with one CR123 battery, it’s waterproof and shock- and fog-resistant. Most interestingly, the body of the optic has three accessory-component platforms, enabling the user to mount a T.M.P.R. laser, a holographic FastFire M3 red-dot sight for fast work up close, or similar T.M.P.R.-compatible device and pull power from the T.M.P.R.’s central CR123 battery. All feature Burris’s Forever Warranty. Price:
$839 to $899.
Bushnell XRS II 4.5-30X Riflescope
This sure isn’t your granddaddy’s Bushnell scope. As the company’s flagship riflescope, it’s packed with premium components, features, and craftsmanship. ED Prime glass, EXO Barrier coatings, a locking diopter, a massive 4.5-30X zoom range complete with Throwhammer Throw Lever to control it, locking windage turret and RevLimiter Zero Stop elevation turret, 10 MILs of adjustment per revolution, and top-shelf reticles like the renowned Horus H59 and Bushnell G3 set it apart. Plus, it’s available in several colors. At 38 ounces, it’s too heavy for a hunting scope, but it’s just right for demanding tactical and PRS competitive work. Price:
$3,150 to $3,290.
EOtech Vudu Riflescope
Yep, EOTech is building “traditional” riflescopes, although the innovative electronic-optic brand naturally puts its own twist on the concept. Scope bodies are machined from a solid chunk of premium aluminum, fitted with—and I quote—“surgically precise turrets,” and finished off with superb-quality HD glass. Various sizes ranging from 1-6X to 8-32X cover a variety of shooting tasks. My personal favorite is the 3.5-18X 50mm, which offers enough zoom for precision on the top end and enough field of view for fast action on the low end. They’re heavy scopes—e.g., the compact 1-6X 24mm tips the scale at 20 ounces. A variety of good MIL and MOA reticles are available. Price:
$1,399 to $1,799.
GPO Passion 12.5X50 HD Binocular
Featuring German design and engineering guided by one of the U.S.’s great optical minds—Mike Jensen—the Passion 12.5X50 binocular offers an outstanding blend of quality and ergonomics. Built on a magnesium frame that combines strength with light weight, plus superb HD glass dressed with GPObright light transmission coatings, this binocular is arguably the most versatile in size and magnification for the expert user carrying just one optic aside from his scope. Naturally, it’s waterproof, tripod adaptable, and armored. Price:
Kahles K16i 3GR 1-6X Riflescope
Optimized for 3-Gun shooting, this sleek scope offers 1-6X zoom and Kahles’s new 3GR reticle. Weighing 17 ounces, it’s extremely robust, provides day and night (illuminated) reticle use optimization, and features excellent multi-coated lenses. It’s waterproof and fog- and shock-resistant. An integrated throw lever enables fast magnification changes. Price:
Leica Geovid HD-B 3000 Binocular
Leica was the first company to integrate a programmable ballistic calculator with onboard atmospherics and declination into a laser-rangefinding binocular, and although other companies are now introducing competing models with similar capabilities, this updated 3,000-yard-capable HD-B 3000 is still rated to read targets 500 yards farther than its competition. Premium German glass, a powerful, precise rangefinder, and time-proven ballistics make this a can’t-lose choice for discerning long-range shooters and hunters. It’s available in 8X42 and 10X42 configurations.Price:
$2,945 to $2,995.
Leupold VX-Freedom Riflescope
This all-new series of riflescopes was engineered to be Leupold’s foundational go-to hunting line and will eventually replace the Rifleman, VX-1, VX-2, and so forth. Initially available in magnification ranges from 1.5-4X to 4-12X, all are built on 1-inch tubes. Several versatile reticles are available, including standard Duplex, Pig-Plex, and the new Rimfire MOA. All VX-Freedom scopes are built in Leupold’s Oregon facility and feature lifetime guarantees. Exceptionally robust, they’re waterproof and shock- and fog-resistant, and they feature excellent fully multi-coated lenses. Price:
$235 to $390.
Nightforce NX8 1-8X Riflescope
Potentially the most capable, value-packed, close- to mid-range optic on the market, the NX8 features a 1-8X zoom, a zero-stop elevation turret with 30 MILs/100 MOA of internal adjustment, adjustable illumination, and front-focal-plane reticles in MILs or MOA. Both reticles display holdover stadia at high magnification and feature a red circle-type element bracketing the center crosswire. At low magnification, it appears as a simple red dot and enables very fast target engagement. A power throw lever comes standard. Weight is only 17 ounces. Price:
Nikon Black RangeX 4K Rangefinder
In this case 4K doesn’t represent resolution, although the optic offers that. It’s for 4,000-yard capability (on reflective targets; max ranging capability on deer is 1,500 yards). Dual modes enable you to program the unit for use. Scan mode provides eight-second sustained output across multiple targets, and Nikon’s ID technology provides accurate horizontal distance when ranging at steep angles. Waterproof, shockproof, and nitrogen purged against fogging, the 6X monocular features fully multi-coated lenses to maximize light transmission and clarity. Weight is 6 ounces. Price:
Revic PMR 428 4.5-28X Riflescope
Without debate, this is the single most innovative riflescope recently introduced. It carries onboard atmospheric sensors and reads incline and magnetic declination, plus it features a highly programmable ballistics calculator that communicates with the sensors. Once programmed with your rifle/cartridge/projectile specifications, it measures on-the-spot shot conditions and displays a “dialed-to” range at the top inside of the field of view. Even more amazing, it compensates for Coriolis effect, aerodynamic jump, directional wind, and spin drift. Simply range the actual distance to target, look through the scope, and dial the turret until the inside LED display matches the target distance. Then shoot. You don’t have to worry about pulling density altitude with a Kestrel or similar device, calculating angle, magnetic declination, or anything—just range, dial, and shoot. The 4.5-28X 56mm Revic PMR 428 runs on one AAA battery. At 47 ounces, weight is substantial but worth it. Price:
Steiner H4Xi Riflescope
Claiming an unprecedented, industry-leading 96 percent light transmission, this new hunting scope should provide outstanding clarity and resolution in low-light hunting conditions. Its 56mm objective lens gathers vast quantities of ambient light and transfers them effectively through the 30mm scope tube. An adjustable illuminated reticle provides an aiming point when black crosshairs merge with background brush. Available in 3-12X and 4-16X versions, the H4Xi is rugged, waterproof, shock- and fog-resistant, and covered by Steiner’s Heritage Warranty. It’s made in the United States using fully multi-coated German glass. Weight is 25 ounces. Price:
$1,250 to $1,325.
Swarovski CL Companion Binocular
A makeover has transformed Swarovski’s good CL binocular into a great binocular. It offers excellent exit pupil size for forgiving low-light viewing and top-shelf coatings for outstanding light transmission, color purity, and clarity plus minimized distortion, and it is very lightweight: only 18 ounces. Available in 8X30 and 10X30 and in your choice of green, black, or tan, the CL Companion is waterproof, dirt-proof, dustproof, and nitrogen purged against internal fogging. Price:
$1,288 to $1,421.
Tract Toric 4-20X Riflescope
New to Tract Optic’s flagship Toric line is a dedicated long-range precision riflescope. Built on a 30mm main tube, the 4-20X 50mm scope is available with either an MOA or a MIL glass-etched reticle and features SCHOTT HT fully multi-coated ED glass, commonly considered to be the best in the world. The elevation turret features Tract’s multi-rotation Zero Stop and provides 20 MOA/10 MRAD per revolution. Illumination offers 11 intensity settings with an “Off” position between each. Plus, shooters can order a custom turret from Tract engraved to match the ballistics of their cartridge. Price:
Trijicon AccuPoint 4-16X Riflescope
Trijicon is legendary for the ACOG sight so widely used by the U.S. military and for its battery-free fiber-optic and tritium illumination. Its AccuPoint riflescopes are arguably the best predator optics available. Reticle and optic are both reliable in extremes of temperature and through heavy abuse. New this year is a 4-16X 50mm version. Featuring side parallax adjustment, superb fully multi-coated broadband anti-reflective glass, and several reticle choices, it might just be the ultimate predator/varmint crossover scope. Weight is 24 ounces. Price:
Vortex Strike Eagle Riflescope
Springboarding off the success of its popular low-magnification Strike Eagle scopes, Vortex announced two high-magnification versions suitable for precision and long-range shooting. These are Vortex’s so-called budget scopes, but they’re feature-rich and built with outstanding fully multi-coated lenses. Initially available with the EBR4 reticle, they’re waterproof and nitrogen-purged against internal fogging. Weight ranges from 24 to 26 ounces. Price:
$600 to $700.
Zeiss Victory RF S.M.A.R.T. Binocular
This incredible new optic is what I consider to be the best new binocular and the best new rangefinder. It not only ranges to 2,500 yards, but also measures temperature, pressure, and shot angle and incorporates them into customized ballistics—which you’ve programmed into the unit via Bluetooth. Then it displays an optimized ballistic solution in your choice of clicks, MILs, MOA, or equivalent horizontal distance. Oh, and that Bluetooth S.M.A.R.T. connectivity? It communicates with an app on your smartphone that does all sorts of cool stuff, such as weather, hunt log, and more. It’s available in 8X42, 10X42, 8X54, and 10X54 configurations. Naturally, optical quality and reliability are stellar. Weight ranges from 31 to 39 ounces. Price: