2016 New Optics Buyer’s Guide

posted on July 26, 2016

They used to tell bad guys “You can run, but you can’t hide.” With recent developments in optics, running might be the only option, as hiding is increasingly out of the question, and even at that, they’ll have to run much farther than ever before. Traditional riflescopes still dominate, but they are being increasingly challenged by digital and thermal-imaging scopes that are progressively adding features, even as their prices fall. Additionally, laser rangefinders are now coming to be regarded as essential gear rather than extravagances, while digital recording and even live streaming allow the sharing and close analysis of visual information. There’s lots new to see in the optics world, but we winnowed down the new offerings to what most caught our eye for 2016.

Aimpoint 6XMag-1 Magnifier
Specifically designed for the Aimpoint Micro T-2 and Micro H-2, the new 6XMag-1 gives users enhanced long-range aiming and observation capabilities and can also be used as a stand-alone, hand-held unit for observation needs in the field. The 6XMag-1 is encased in a shock-absorbing protective rubber cover that also creates an ideal ergonomic grip. Internal optical adjustments make aligning the magnifier and sight quick and easy. When used in conjunction with the company’s proprietary FlipMount, the 6XMag-1 can be easily moved out of the way of the red-dot sight for close-quarters use. Once properly positioned in line with the dot, the magnifier can be locked back into place with no loss of alignment.

Magnification: 6X
Objective Lens Diameter: 30 mm
Reticle: N/A
Length: 6 inches
Weight: 8.8 ounces
MSRP: $878
(877) 246-7646; aimpoint.com

ATN Binox-THD 384 4.5-18X Thermal Digital Binocular
The new Thermal BinoX from ATN features a 50 mm germanium lens and relatively affordable quality for this pricey market segment. Using an Obsidian “T” Core power source, the binocular incorporates numerous information-gathering sensors and records video or still images to your SD card or streams to your mobile device via built-in Wi-Fi. It also includes a gyroscope, magnetometer, accelerometer, smooth zoom, e-compass and GPS Geotag.

Magnification: 4.5-18X
Objective Lens Diameter: 50 mm
Length: 8.2 inches
Weight: 29.6 ounces
Human Detection Range: 1,640 yards
Human Recognition Range: 656 yards
Human Identification Range: 394 yards
MSRP: $3,499
(800) 910-2862; atncorp.com

ATN Smart X-Spotter HD 20-80X Spotting Scope
The first-ever HD digital smart spotting scope, the X-Spotter is wired for USB, SD card and HDMI, but also outfitted for wireless connectivity via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It incorporates a 1 Ghz processor powered by the latest Obsidian II Core. It can record images at great distances for sharing later or in real time by streaming, all in true HD Day and HD Night resolution. It also has a gyroscope, GPS Geotag, magnetometer, accelerometer, e-barometer, smooth zoom and e-compass.

Magnification: 20-80X
Objective Lens Diameter: 80 mm
Field-of-View: 107 feet at 1,000 yards
Sensor: HD 1080p ATN L130
Length: 20.81 inches
Weight: 72 ounces
MSRP: $1,299
(800) 910-2862; atncorp.com

ATN X-Sight II HD 3-14X Scope
Relaying crystal-clear images containing millions of colors, the X-Sight II Series brings true HD to digital scopes at an affordable price. Equipped with a suite of sensors and powerful processor, it gives a vibrant, highly detailed view with all the advantages of digital, such as the ability to record and/or transmit the image as either stills or video, in daytime or at night, either for yourself or to share with others. It even has ATN’s RAV (Recoil Activated Video), that automatically records videos before, during and after the shot. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, gyroscope, magnetometer, accelerometer, GPS Geotag and ATN’s Smart Shooting Solution and Smart Range Finder are also included.

Magnification: 3-14X
Objective Lens Diameter: 50 mm
Reticle: Multiple patterns and color options
Length: 11.56 inches
Weight: 34.4 ounces
MSRP: $599
(800) 910-2862; atncorp.com

Burris XTR II 1-8x24 mm
Versatility makes the latest addition to the Burris XTR II line worth a look. It’s available in two new illuminated reticles and features the company’s new Modular Adjustment Dial (M.A.D.) System, which allows shooters to choose from competition-style exposed knobs or capped knobs on both windage-and-elevation adjustments in any desired combination. Custom knobs can also be added to the riflescope to perfectly match the trajectory of any ammunition. Built-in zero click-stops lets you quickly and easily revert back to the original zero setting without having to count clicks.

Magnification: 1-8X
Objective Lens Diameter: 24 mm
Reticle: Ballistic Dot/Ballistic Circle Dot
Length: 10.75 inches
Weight: 24.4 ounces
MSRP: $1,199
(888) 228-7747; burrisoptics.com

Bushnell DMR II-i
Short, but powerful, the DMR II-i offers a host of features, starting with a 34 mm tube diameter. The G3 illuminated reticle makes holdover easy at long range, even in low light. For convenience, the illumination control is incorporated into the side parallax focus knob. There are 10 mils of adjustment per revolution of the elevation turret, but the RevLimiter makes it quick to get back to zero. The ergonomic ThrowHammer Lever hastens magnification changes with just the move of a finger. The DMR II-i is also available with a non-illuminated G3 reticle or a Horus H-59 reticle.

Magnification: 3.5-21X
Objective-Lens Diameter: 50 mm
Reticle: G3 Illuminated
Length: 13.2 inches
Weight: 32.5 ounces
MSRP: $1,998.67
(800) 433-3537; bushnell.com

Bushnell LRTSi
With a 30 mm tube and matte black finish, the LRTSi is sleek as well as capable. Incorporating a G3 Illuminated reticle, holdover—even in diminished light—is fast and simple. It is available in 3-12X or 4.5-18X, and in either case magnification adjustments are quick and easy thanks to the ThrowHammer Lever. The LRTSi also features the RevLimiter Zero Stop and T-Lock locking windage turret, and can be had in Flat Dark Earth with a non-illuminated G3 reticle, too.

Magnification: 3-12X; 4.5-18X
Objective-Lens Diameter: 44 mm
Reticle: G3 Illuminated
Length: 14.3 inches
Weight: 24.4 ounces.
MSRP:  $1,680
(800) 433-3537; bushnell.com

FLIR Scout TK Thermal Vision Monocular
A 20-degree field-of-view simplifies locating warm-blooded threats in darkness and will detect a heat signature 100 yards away. The LCD screen provides clarity with a 640x480-pixel display. The compact unit operates with one hand, starts up in seconds, and is intuitive to use. It weighs only 6 ounces and includes a 5-hour lithium-ion battery. The tiny Scout TK keeps a record of your sighting with 4-hour video and 1,000-still image storage capability.

Length:  6 inches
Weight: 6 ounces
Field-of-View: 20 degrees x 16 degrees
Range: 100 yards
Power Source: Lithium-ion battery; rechargeable
Run Time: 5 hours
MSRP: $599
(877) 596-6115; flir.com

FLIR Scout III Thermal Handheld Camera
Now it’s easy to know what’s going bump in the dark. Offered in three models, the Scout III can detect heat signatures up to 1,200 yards away (depending on model). Lifelike thermal video is the result of high-speed 30Hz or 60Hz frame-rate displays on a 640x480-pixel screen. Sophisticated to the point of simplicity, the Scout III requires no training to use, starts up quickly and runs for 5 hours on the rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

Length:  6.7 inches
Weight: 12 ounces
Field-of-View: 24 degrees x 18 degrees (Scout III 240)
Range: 382-1,247 yards (depending on model)
Power Source: Lithium-ion battery; rechargeable
Run Time: 5 hours
MSRP: starting at $1,899
(877) 596-6115; flir.com

Hartman MH1 Reflex Sight
There’s a lot of firsts in the Hartman MH1 Reflex Sight: it’s the company’s first offering, for starters; it’s the first reflex sight to offer a USB charging point in addition to battery power and it’s also the first to offer an optional PTT (Push-To-Transmit) wireless remote that wraps around a grip to allow brightness modifications to be performed without having to move hands. The MH1 is also water-resistant up to 20 feet and contains a built-in Weaver/Picatinny mount for easy mounting. Two reticle styles are available, “A” and “B,” which offer a dot flanked by horizontal lines (“A”) and horizontal lines and one vertical line underneath the dot (“B”).

Magnification: 1X
Objective Lens Diameter: N/A
Reticle: 2 MOA dot
Length: 5.375 inches
Weight: 12.7 ounces
MSRP: $650
(754) 205-9385; caagearup.com

IR Defense REAP-IR
A unique combination of compact size and high-end resolution makes the REAP-IR a great choice for any shooter looking for a thermal sight. Another great feature is the integrated stadiametric rangefinder, which allows the user to bracket a target electronically and automatically receive the estimated range. Black hot and white hot displays enable the user to adjust for different conditions while still maintaining superior resolution. All five reticle options also display their adjustment position, making ballistic calculations easier. Cycling through these features is simple thanks to a built-in thumbstick. The REAP-IR can be used as a stand-alone sight or mounted in front of day optics for added versatility. It’s built to mil-spec standards, so it promises to be durable.

Magnification: 2.5X (20X digital)
Field-of-View: 12 degrees
Reticle: Five reticle options onboard
Length: 6.6 inches
Weight: 20.8 ounces
MSRP: $7,500
(530) 210-2966; irdefense.com

Leupold Mark 6 3-18x44 mm with Tremor 3 Reticle
The vaunted Mark 6 3-18x44 mm is now available with the Tremor 3 reticle, making it easier to adjust to wind by virtue of 1/10 mil chevrons. A standard H59 grid pattern is beneath the Tremor area of the reticle. Additionally, this front-focal-plane scope has Leupold’s Xtended Twilight Lens System for maximum light gathering, and DiamondCoat 2 ion-assist lens coating for brilliance, clarity and abrasion resistance.

Magnification: 3-18X
Objective Lens Diameter: 44 mm
Reticle: Tremor 3
Length: 12 inches
Weight: 23.6 ounces
MSRP: $3,249.99 (non-illuminated); $5,719.99 (illuminated)
(800) 538-7653; leupold.com

Leupold Mark 8 3.5-25x56 mm with Tremor 3 Reticle
Like the Mark 6, the Mark 8 is now offered with the option of the Tremor 3 reticle, using .1-mil chevrons to ease adjusting for wind. The Tremor 3 is incorporated into a reticle that still includes the standard H59 grid.  As the reticle is in the first focal plane, its size increases with magnification, simplifying ranging at all distances. Additional virtues include the company’s Xtended Twilight Lens System, an abrasion-resistant DiamondCoat 2 ion-assisted lens coating, a generous eye box, twin bias spring-erector system and lockable fast-focus eyepiece.

Magnification: 3.5-25X
Objective Lens Diameter: 56 mm
Reticle: Tremor 3
Length: 16 inches
Weight: 37 ounces
MSRP: $6,109.99
(800) 538-7653; leupold.com

Lucid L7 1-6X Riflescope
Designed for use with the AR-15 platform, the L7 offers a variable-power optic suitable for 3-gun competition, intermediate-range shooting or defensive use. With a second-focal-plane, etched-glass P7 reticle, the L7 provides crisp images with generous eye relief. One-piece construction from 6063 aluminum yields a tough-but-light scope that’s affordable and durable. The P7 reticle is designed to offer holdover points when zeroed at known distance for 1, 3 and 6X magnification. An optional “FAST” lever allows rapid progression through power settings for those who need to quickly transition from close quarters to long range.

Magnification: 1-6X
Objective Lens Diameter: 24 mm
Reticle: P7 Etched Glass
Length: 10.75 inches
Weight: 20.4 ounces
MSRP: $449
(307) 840-2160; mylucidgear.com

Lucid SC9 Spotting Scope
With an oversize eyepiece, camera-style focus lever and 56 mm extra-low dispersion glass, the Lucid SC9 compact spotting scope is designed to yield crisp images with fully multi-coated lenses. Economy of size and price mean this scope won’t add pounds to your pack nor subtract much from your budget, with engineering that lets it run with the larger, more expensive spotting scopes. Offering magnification up to 27X, discerning hits at faraway distances should be simple. Rubberized armor-over-aluminum construction keeps the weight down while the unit is fully protected, and the SC9 is waterproof and fogproof.

Magnification: 9-27X
Objective Lens Diameter: 56 mm
Reticle: ED Glass
Length: 8.25 inches
Weight: 21 ounces
MSRP: $499
(307) 840-2160; mylucidgear.com

Meopta MeoRed
Designed for use on handguns with cutout slides, AR platforms or shotguns, this sight is well-suited for tactical use as well as 3-gun competition and target shooting. Thanks to a lower profile than its predecessor, the sight easily co-witnesses with most iron sights. The MeoRed comes with an integrated MIL-STD 1913 mount in addition to an interface plate for a Docter mount. Illumination is activated via a control button on the left side of the sight and brightness of the red dot is continuous and easily adjustable. The MeoRed is powered by one CR2032 battery for 300 hours.

Magnification: 1X
Objective Lens Diameter: N/A
Reticle: 3-MOA red dot
Length: 1.85 inches
Weight: 1.05 ounces
MSRP: $517.49
(800) 828-8928; meopta.com

Nightforce SHV 4-14x50 mm Riflescope
Nightforce built on the success of its existing SHV (Shooting/Hunting/Varminting) family with the new SHV 4-14x50 mm F1 riflescope. The F1 delivers first-focal-plane performance in a mid-power package suitable for a wide range of shooting applications. This design feature gives the shooter the option of precisely holding for elevation and wind, at any magnification setting by using the information contained in the reticle. External illumination control for the reticle is contained with the parallax adjustment knob, which itself is adjustable from 25 yards to infinity. A fast-focus diopter and a positive-grip power-zoom ring allow for rapid adjustments in magnification and fine-tuning on the fly.

Magnification: 4-14X
Objective Lens Diameter: 50 mm
Reticle: Mil-R and MOAR
Length: 14.8 inches
Weight: 30 ounces
MSRP: $1,290
(208) 476-9814; nightforceoptics.com

Nikon P-308 30 mm Riflescope
Building on the success of its P-308 line, Nikon introduces a P-308 riflescope with a 30 mm tube for 2016. The BDC 800 reticle featured on the P-308 is designed for shooting long-range distances with rifles chambered in .308 Win. and is specifically calibrated for 168-grain BTHP match-grade ammunition. Like the rest of Nikon riflescopes, the P-308 with 30 mm tube is optimized for use with Spot On Ballistic Match Technology, which provides users with exact aiming points on the BDC reticle for any load or ammunition at a specified range.  The app is is free online and is available, free, for mobile devices, including iPhone and Android platforms.

Magnification: 4-16X
Objective Lens Diameter: 52.3 mm
Reticle: BDC 800
Length: 13.6 inches
Weight: 21 ounces
MSRP: $449.95
(800) 645-6687; nikonsportoptics.com

In keeping with SIG Sauer’s seeming desire to conquer every nook and cranny of the gun industry, the company’s latest optic is an uncooled, firearm-mounted thermal sight designed to function like a reflex sight, meaning you can easily use it with both eyes open. In addition to black or white hot displays, the ECHO1 also features a color palette to further differentiate a target (or parts of a target) from the background. The optic comes with an integral MIL-STD 1913 rail mount and a peep sight on its top, which can be replaced with a plate to mount a SIG Sauer ROMEO1 micro red-dot sight for close-quarters engagements.

Magnification: 1-2X
Field-of-View: 3.7 degrees x 4.7 degrees
Reticle: Five reticle options onboard
Length: 4.3 inches
Weight: 14.7 ounces
MSRP: $2,500
(603) 610-3000; sigoptics.com

SIG Sauer TANGO6 5-30x56 mm
Expanding on its line of tactical riflescopes, SIG Sauer’s latest TANGO6 features increased magnification and light-gathering capability. It’s not small, but it is meant for long-range shooting from big, heavy rifles in serious chamberings. It is offered with either a first-focal-plane or a second-focal-plane illuminated reticle calibrated to either milliradians or MOA. Illumination automatically turns on when motion is detected and shuts off after lengthy periods of inactivity. Lockable, resettable target turrets make adjustments simple. The TANGO6 features fully multicoated, extra-low-dispersion glass for sharp, bright images.

Magnification: 5-30X
Objective Lens Diameter: 56 mm
Reticle: MIL or MOA milling, illuminated
Length: 15 inches
Weight: 42.2 ounces
MSRP: $2,999.99-$3,199.99
(603) 610-3000; sigoptics.com

SilencerCo Radius Laser Rangefinder
Mounting to any Picatinny rail, the new Radius laser rangefinder from SilencerCo lets you customize your setup as well as your display. The unit weighs only 16 ounces, but is heavy on performance. It will range a non-reflective target out to 1,000 yards and a reflective one out to 1 mile. The Radius has a 12-hour run time on two CR123 batteries and offers continuous ranging.

Reflective Target Range: 1 mile
Non-Reflective Target Range: 1,000 yards
Length: 5.80 inches
Weight: 16 ounces
MSRP: $999
(801) 417-5384; silencerco.com

Steiner M5Xi 3-15x50 mm
Designed for precision shooting at long range, the Steiner M5Xi 3-15x50 mm features a waterproof, fogproof and shockproof 34 mm tube for increased strength and reliability along with broadband anti-reflection coatings to ensure optimal performance in low light. It’s available in a choice of two Horus reticles, designed with law enforcement personnel/military snipers and competitive shooters in mind. Features like CR2450 battery-powered illumination and secondary horizontal stadia allow for precise elevation, wind drift and speed-of-target compensation to quickly and accurately engage distant targets out to 600 yards.

Magnification: 3-15X
Objective Lens Diameter: 50 mm
Reticle: Horus H59/Horus TReMoR2
Length: 14.2 inches
Weight: 32.5 ounces
MSRP: $3,794.99
(888) 228-7747; steiner-optics.com

Steiner P4Xi 1-4x24 mm
Built for patrol use and combat, the Steiner P4Xi 1-4x24 mm provides the perfect balance of adaptability, precision and speed in a variable-power optic. It offers true 1X magnification for shooting with both eyes open and 4X zoom for situational awareness and versatility. A wide field-of-view and 3.5 inches of eye relief throughout its magnification range make it well-suited for rapid target acquisition, regardless of close- or intermediate-range threats. Five daytime and six nighttime illumination settings, with an OFF position between each setting, make this purpose-built riflescope go-to gear for any life-and-death situation that may arise.

Magnification: 1-4X
Objective Lens Diameter: 24 mm
Reticle: P3TR
Length: 10.3 inches
Weight: 17.3 ounces
MSRP: $675.99
(888) 228-7747; steiner-optics.com

Tract Response 4-16x42 mm
Founded by two veterans of the optics industry, Tract imports its scopes from the same factories in Asia as many more-established brands. Because the scopes are sold direct to the consumer via Tract’s website, they are available for significantly less than competing products with similar specifications. The Response features a glass-etched, drop- and windage-compensating reticle designed for use with your 7.62 NATO AR. A 5.56 NATO version is also available. Fully multi-coated glass promises crisp, clear images, and the large ocular bell makes acquisition fast and easy.

Magnification: 4-16X
Objective Lens Diameter: 42 mm
Reticle: Impact BDC .308/7.62
Length: 13.1 inches
Weight: 19.6 ounces
MSRP: $394
(844) 747-4928; tractoptics.com

Trijicon LED ACOG 3.5x35 mm Scope
A battery-powered ACOG? Yep. Self-luminous tritium can’t be imported to some countries, so Trijicon offers models that illuminate with battery power. Using the widely available AA battery, the LED ACOG can operate for more than 12,000 continuous hours on a single cell. The new 3.5x35 mm model offers improved eye relief compared to the already established 4x32 mm version. It is offered with a selection of bullet-drop and range-finding reticles, is compatible with night vision and built extremely tough.

Magnification: 3.5X
Objective-Lens Diameter: 35 mm
Reticle: .223  or .308 (Chevron, Horseshoe or Crosshair)
Length: 8 inches
Weight: 16.8 ounces
MSRP: $1,548
(800) 338-0563; trijicon.com

TruGlo Tru-Brite 30 Series
The versatile Tru-Brite 30 Series offers a choice of 1-4X or 1-6X magnification in a scope with a 30 mm tube. It boasts a bright image and wide field-of-view. Dial it down to true 1X for a lightning-fast sight picture or crank it up for more-distant targets. It includes two pre-drilled BDC turrets in .223 Rem. (55 grain) and .308 Win. (168 grain) to engage targets out to 800 yards, and reversible, monolithic 30 mm scope rings/mount of aircraft-grade aluminum. The Tru-Brite 30 series is shock resistant, and both water- and fogproof.

Magnification: 1-4X; 1-6X
Objective-Lens Diameter: 24 mm
Reticle: Duplex Mil-Dot; Power Ring Duplex Mil-Dot (Illuminated)
Length: 10.39 inches
Weight: 15.1 inches
MSRP: $270


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