This review of the German Precision Optics GPOTAC 8X riflescope appeared originally as a Gun Locker in the November 2017 issue of Shooting Illustrated. To subscribe to the magazine, visit the NRA membership page here and select Shooting Illustrated as your member magazine.
It’s gotta be a tough gig, working in R&D for an optics company like German Precision Optics (GPO). You do your market research, you talk to end users, then you call down to the mines and get Production going on the latest and greatest. Sometimes, what the market’s calling for is a tall order, like a scope that can go from a true 1X setting all the way up to 8X magnification. Research-and-development costs are significant, and the actual scope calls for more materials than previous iterations, but you manage to get everything done in a package that works well. That package is the GPOTAC 8X 1-8x24 mm riflescope.
Then it hits the market, and all you hear about for months is the price. You get knocked around because the cost of this innovative new scope is on the high side—compared to previous variants in your line. It doesn’t matter that other, comparable scopes are going for as much or more than your new offering. Also, despite your name, your scopes aren’t actually made in Germany. You seem to be on the defensive rather than touting all the scope’s worthy features.
Like, say, the first-focal-plane reticle with illuminated dot that grows into a horseshoe at maximum magnification. A true 1X level, the GPOTAC 8X 1-8x24 mm riflescope can be used similarly to a red-dot sight with the illumination turned up. Crank the magnification and the reticle “grows” until the little dot is now a horseshoe, which brackets a silhouette target at distance. At full magnification, targets out to the effective range of .223 Rem. ammunition can be accessed rather easily, so you can use one scope to do it all.
For those who might squawk about the price, take a moment and think about it, please. First, the price on the GPOTAC 8X 1-8x24 mm riflescope is pretty much in line with competitive models—other optics companies’ 1-8X options are all well into the thousands of dollars. Second, the true 1X scope market is pretty new itself, with 1-6X variants evolving in the past decade or so, and 1-8X models an even more-recent development. Engineers don’t work for free, and the costs for designing and building the latest and greatest have to be covered somehow.
Think about it this way: when the microwave oven first hit the market in the late 1970s, prices ranged somewhere between $300 and $400—in 1970s dollars. That’s $1,200 to $1,600 in today’s prices, about what these scopes are going for. While a high-quality optic like the GPOTAC 8X is unlikely to be selling for $100 in 40 years, it is likely to be considerably lower as the technology matures and becomes more widespread.
With all this said, the GPOTAC 8X 1-8x24 mm riflescope is an impressive piece of hardware. The 34 mm tube—necessary to achieve the large range of adjustment—is a seriously solid chunk of metal, and surprisingly doesn’t make the scope terribly heavy. Windage and elevation turrets are exposed, and lock down once zeroed. The illuminated reticle automatically powers down after 3 hours of inactivity, and the scope will alert when battery life drops below 15 percent. Even in the absence of power, the reticle is still quite visible at all magnification ranges.
The true test is, of course, on the range. All the fancy engineering, all the latest bells and whistles don’t mean much if the optic doesn’t perform. Granted, a proper test of the GPOTAC 8X 1-8x24 mm riflescope would include torture-testing through wind, rain, mud and snow; participating in a few 3-gun matches; launching numerous thousand rounds downrange to ensure it keeps zero and other herculean feats, but we have to make do with what we have on hand.
We shot a standard “box” drill, where the scope is zeroed, then the zero is elevated via a set number of clicks. Another group is shot, then windage changes to the right the same number of clicks. Next we drop elevation down, shoot a group, then bring windage to the left using the initial number of clicks. If all changes are repeatable and equitable, the last group shot should overlay the initial—and it did, just fine.
We also ran a few magazines through the rifle rapid-fire with the GPOTAC 8X 1-8x24 mm riflescope on 1X power and the illumination turned up, to see how it handled targets up close. The center dot was quick to acquire and made close-range shots easy, similar to a standard red-dot sight. Intermediate-range shots at 2X power were just as crisp as up close, and when all was said and done, one final group shot off the bench gave a group that was indistinguishable from the first.
Who’s the target audience for this scope? Well, first and foremost, the serious 3-gun competitor. It’s not hard to see the advantage that an 8X magnification gives on those long-range shots, while the red dot at 1X makes close-range work simple. Beyond that, though, if you’re a fan of intermediate-distance shooting, the GPOTAC 8X 1-8x24 mm riflescope is about as close to a do-it-all optic for 5.56 or even 7.62 NATO—the 8X magnification is plenty sufficient for steel plates out to well beyond 500 yards. If you’re looking for a scope you can mount, zero and document at different ranges, this is one solid option.