Hot Scopes for Hunters

Technology is helping to shed new light on hunting optics

Riflescopes for 2008 are marked by continuing and welcome advances in quality combined with ever-lower prices due to intense market competition. Conventional hunting riflescopes are ever smaller with ever-brighter lenses and ever-wider fields of view at unprecedented levels of magnification.

At the same time, hunters are increasingly turning to the features offered by "tactical scopes," with 30mm tubes and turret-focus mechanisms. New range/trajectory compensating reticles continue to appear at a rapid rate, and we are also now seeing variable-power scopes with six-factor magnification ranges, allowing you to go from a 2X setting to a 12X setting (or a 4X to 24X), making the same scope equally useful for close quarters or long-range.

Another trend is the continuing incorporation of new reticle-illumination and digital technology into "conventional" hunting scopes at all magnification and feature levels, making illumination useful in broad daylight as well as near dark. The optics market for 2008 continues to nearly be a buyer's paradise.

BSA's CatsEye riflescope series continues as one as the best value-for-money lines of hunting riflescopes on the market from a company whose motto is entry-level pricing for full-featured products. Hunters particularly need dim-light performance, and the ocular lens on CatsEye scope line are made with a larger diameter than most other scopes of the same magnification, helping to create a longer 4- to 5-inch eye relief and a larger exit pupil that allows your eye to receive a greater amount of light.

This reduces eyestrain and fatigue at the edges of day, making these scopes very comfortable for extended viewing in early dawn or late dusk. Camera quality glass gives you a clear and undistorted image. All CatsEye lenses are fully multi-coated to provide the brightest possible view without glare or reflections. CatsEye scopes are available in 1.5-4.5x32mm, 3-10x44m, 3.5-10x50mm and 4-16x50mm, in both standard and illuminated reticle versions. (

Bushnell's new flagship Elite 6500 series features a 6.5x magnification range, the widest in the industry -- ideal for hunters who want a scope to use in brush as well as wide-open prairie. Push/pull turrets with resettable zero make sighting-in easier than ever. The extended range of windage and elevation travel (60 inches on the 2.5-16x models), with .25 MOA quick adjust clicks, make this scope a "must have" for the hunter who shoots a broad range of game and distances.

All models have a one-piece 30mm tube to deliver plenty of light for those perfect shots right before legal shooting ends, and up to 4 inches of eye relief and a finer Multi-X reticle. (Mil Dot versions of each model are also available.) There are three Elite 6500 versions: 2.5-16x42mm, 2.5-16x50mm and 4.5-30x50mm. Each have side parallax adjustment and feature fully multi-coated optics with RainGuard, for a clear view even in the worst conditions. (

Cabela's new "Big Game" Turret Tactical scopes are specially engineered for rifles in several calibers, using an average of the most popular loads for each caliber. No holdover guesswork required; you simply select and sight-in with the appropriate turret for your load, then range your target and dial in the scope for that distance. Each scope comes with interchangeable turrets for different calibers that can be changed with an Allen wrench.

All have fully coated optics, better light transmission and greater resolution. All models feature 1-inch tubes and finger-adjustable windage and elevation with trajectory compensation turret. Each scope is available in four-power models with some models featuring a side focus parallax adjustment for ultra-fast target acquisition. Each scope is waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof, and includes turrets, turret carrying bag and an Allen wrench. The Big Game series offers six of the most popular big-game caliber turrets calibrated for bullet dropout to 400 yards and beyond. (

Italian optics maker Konus offers a full line of riflescopes for the U.S. market, led by its fixed-power and variable KonusPro series, designed specifically for hunting. KonusPro models are waterproof, with multicoated optics, available in three fixed-power and four variable-power versions, from 1.5-5x32mm to 6-24x44mm. Illuminated reticles are available on selected models, and all versions feature engraved reticles.

The KonusPro is the first line of riflescopes dedicated to the sportsman with a tactical styled engraved (glass etched) reticle. This technology is typically reserved for military and tactical scopes because of their ruggedness and their ability to withstand extreme forces. The KonusPro riflescope reticles are actually etched on precision, multi-coated optical glass -- thus eliminating the chance of breaking or misalignment. All KonusPro models feature 100 percent waterproof, fogproof, shockproof and nitrogen-charged tubes, fully multi-coated high-def optics, 0.125 MOA and 0.25-MOA finger-adjustable windage and elevation adjustments (depending on model) and engraved reticles. (

Nikon continues to expand and improve its flagship Monarch riflescope line, using a new optical system created for increased mounting versatility. The Monarch design now includes a new Monarch Eye Box design with an impressive 4X zoom range and a comfortable 4 inches of eye relief that remains constant throughout the power range without sacrificing field of view.

A larger ocular lens delivers both a large high-resolution sight picture and the maximum field of view corresponding to each power setting. Ni

kon has also placed rear-facing magnification indicators on the zoom control and included a quick-focus eyepiece. Most Monarch scopes also now feature Nikon's new Interchangeable Turret Technology, offering 1/4 MOA target and hunting style turrets that can be quickly interchanged in the field to accommodate closer-range shots in woody or brushy conditions, as well as long shots where trajectory adjustments are desirable. Plus, Nikon's BDC bullet-drop compensating reticle is available on various models. (

Continuing its rapid expansion into the high-performance/moderate-price sector of the riflescope marketplace, Sightron has added side focus capability to four models in the SII Big Sky line for 2008. A 4.5-14x44 and 6.5-20x50 version is available with either Mi1-Dot or 1/4 MOA Target/Varmint Dot reticles.

The 4.5-14x44 model has an exceptional 80 MOA of windage and elevation adjustment and the 6.5-2-x50 scope has 60 MOA of internal travel. Each model has target knobs with 1/4 MOA adjustments. SII Big Sky scopes use one-piece aircraft quality aluminum tubes and feature Sightron's Exactrack system for precise no-drift windage and elevation adjustments. The fully coated precision ground lenses use Sightron's ZACT-7 Revcoat seven layer multicoating throughout to provide some of the highest light transmission in the industry. Sightron Big Sky Scopes are waterproof and nitrogen filled for internal fog protection and have climate control coatings on the exterior lens surfaces to provide additional protection. (

Simmons' economical Master Series ProHunter scope line includes the patented TrueZero flex erector system, and the QTA Quick Target Acquisition eyepiece -- plus true one-piece tube construction for increased mounting area, aspherical lens technology and fully multi-coated optics, HydroShield lens coating, new SureGrip rubber surfaces on all eyepieces and side-focus parallax adjustments.

Also unprecedented in a value-priced riflescope is the Simmons TrueZero windage and elevation dial mechanism, which employs an audible-click ball bearing and spring system to significantly reduce wear while maintaining dial reliability and accuracy over time.

The dials themselves do not screw in or out, but pull an internal post, which insure equal click value throughout the full adjustment range. Also, the dials are completely sealed against water intrusion, even with the windage and elevation caps off. Seventeen variable-power ProHunter variations are available, from 2-7x32mm to 6-24x44mm, plus two fixed-power versions in 4x32mm and 6x40mm, in a variety of finishes and reticle configurations. (

Swarovski's Z6 scope series offer a six-times zoom factor, and were the first scopes to feature this magnification range. The Z6 scope's field of view has been increased by nearly 50 percent in some models, plus significant increases in eye relief. The illuminated Z6i versions of the series have Swarovski's High Grid technology built into the eyepiece for the best possible reticle illumination, protected by a low-profile forged aluminum housing that is completely watertight.

Unlike other illuminated scopes, there is no "tacked-on" battery housing. The new riflescopes have a wide choice of reticles, all in the second image plane, which means that only the target is enlarged when changing the magnification and not the reticle itself. This makes aiming considerably easier and allows use of the same reticle placement at all magnification levels for easy trajectory compensation at different ranges. The new 30mm Z6 scopes are now available in 10 different configurations. (

Trijicon, Inc. has introduced the first AccuPoint riflescopes to combine the company's advanced, self-luminous aiming technologies and superb clarity with the added precision of the hunting industry's most popular reticle -- a cross hair. The new Trijicon AccuPoint with an illuminated cross hair reticle does not require batteries for operation, eliminating the need for extra batteries and potential for failure during a critical moment in the field.

The new Trijicon AccuPoint riflescope series is designed to deliver accurate, effective aiming under even the most challenging conditions, extending hunting hours for greater success. Trijicon's exclusive battery-free tritium technology provides precise amber illumination where the cross hairs intersect, regardless of available light. The new cross hair series of Trijicon AccuPoint riflescopes also features Trijicon's newly updated Manual Brightness Adjustment Override, which allows the user to shade the tritium and fiber optics during daylight. The Trijicon "AccuPoint" riflescope line is available in 1.25-4x24mm, 3-9x40mm and 2.5-10x56mm versions, all with 1-inch tubes. (

TruGlo's new Tru-Brite scope line offers great utility at an economical price. Available in 3-9x44mm, 3-12x44mm and 4-16x50mm versions, all feature dual-color illuminated reticles that allow choice of red or green for faster target acquisition in low-light conditions.

The reticles can also be used in black without illumination. All have waterproof/fog-proof/nitrogen gas-filled construction, and the BDC (Bullet-Drop Compensating) models have special reticles that can be easily calibrated to most centerfire cartridges and accommodate targets up to 600 yards away. The Tru-Brite series also features shock-resistant construction to 1,000 gravities, optical-quality all-weather see-thru/flip-up lens caps and a rubber-coated, speed-focus eyepiece. The lenses have specially formulated multi-coatings to provide maximum brightness, clarity and contrast, and the zoom index on the power ring is at 9 o'clock for more ergonomic use. All Tru-Brite models also have low-profile, large-diameter windage/elevation adjustment drums with coil-spring tensioning, a rheostat for adjustable brightness intensity, one-piece aircraft-quality alum

inum tubes and durable, scratch-resistant, non-reflective matte finish. (

Vortex Viper premium riflescopes offer 95 percent light transmission and premium, fully multi-coated optics at a price hundreds less than premium brands. XD (Xtra-low Dispersion) objective lens elements of extra-low dispersion glass enhance image resolution and are precision-crafted to exacting standards for clarity and color accuracy. XR anti-reflective coatings deliver image detail with extremely high resolution and light transmission. Fully multi-coated, scratch-resistant coatings eliminate annoying, image-degrading reflections and offer extraordinary brightness for a lifetime of trouble-free lens protection.

The Viper's patented Precision-Force Spring System uses an ultra-performance copper alloy/cobalt-beryllium spring that greatly increases the fatigue life of the erector support system over more commonly used materials, but changes in spring pressure over time are virtually eliminated because the spring maintains a constant force throughout the entire range of motion. And most important, windage and elevation adjustments are consistently smooth, thanks to the spring's resistance to galling against the erector tube. (

Weaver Grand Slam riflescopes continue to be superb performers while remaining value-priced. All Grand Slam scopes are equipped with the Micro-Trac 4-point adjustment system, unique in the industry. Any adjustment made to the tube for windage is independent of any elevation changes.

Most conventional conversion systems use two screws and one spring to adjust their erector tubes. Eventually, adjusting one screw "too much" will cause the spring to inadvertently affect the adjustment of the other variable. These other systems do not operate independently from one another like the Micro-Trac. The Micro-Trac erector tube is always being directed from the same point, so angular motion is consistent. Click adjustments are always consistent to a minute of angle. (

Zeiss continues to expand its "Rapid-Z" user-friendly reticle system into additional riflescope models. Rapid-Z variations include the standard Rapid-Z 600, Rapid-Z Varmint, and Rapid-Z 800 formats for common hunting calibers, and the Rapid-Z 1000 for longer-range shooting. Horizontal lines with yardage reference numbers indicating distances provide accurate and easy holdover to rapidly engage targets at any distance within the capability of the cartridge being used.

Yardage distances vary depending on the format of the reticle whether the Rapid-Z 600 and Rapid-Z Varmint for use out to 600 yards, or the Rapid-Z 800 and Rapid-Z 1000 for use out to 800 and 1,000 yards, respectively. In addition to holdover reference points, the reticles have reference points for windage equating to 5- and 10-mph winds along the horizontal axis of the major yardage lines. All Rapid-Z reticles will have the added ability to perform quick range estimation through the use of a simple ranging bracket feature. (

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