Rifle Scopes High End Optics comparison from Kinetics Security Solutions

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    Here is an interesting test of some high end optics at 20X that someone sent me a link: https://www.kineticsecuritysolutions.com/pages/optics-comparison
    Included is a Zero Compromise Optic ZC527, Tangent Theta TT525P, Vortex Razor Gen III 6-36, Leupold MK5HD 5-25, Nightforce ATACR 7-35, Kahles K525i, S&B 5-25 PMII, Bushnell XRS3 6-36, Burris XTR Pro 5.5-30 and Zeiss LRP 5-25.

    How well the ZCO ranked does not surprise me but how some other scopes ranked did surprise me in this review.
     
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    hafejd30

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    Interesting. Didn’t think the TT would be that low. Never looked through one but they seem to get good comparison to ZCO here
     

    Birddog6424

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    That's a pretty cool test. Though I think they left out an important factor, and that's mirage.

    I've compared the MK5 to my Pro a handful of times now. And I agree with the test results they found here. They are very close. Until the mirage kicks up. Then the Pro looks a LOT better. The clarity of the MK5 gets washed out, whereas the Pro cuts through and shows detail. I shot a match in Bend Oregon a couple weeks ago, and the mirage was pea soup. But the Burris really cut through it and gave me a good look at the plates.

    I know the ZCO looks even better in mirage, as does the TT. So its a pretty big real world factor.
     

    BCX

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    Cool test, owned 2 TT and wasn't impressed at long range w them. Very happy w my NF 7-35 F1 Mil C for ELR..

    We need a independent NF style torture test for a clear winner!!! I believe a few turret accuracy test has been already done.
     
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    hafejd30

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    Cool test, owned 2 TT and wasn't impressed at long range w them. Very happy w a NF 7-35 F1 Mil C for ELR..

    We need a independent NF style torture test for a clear winner!!! I believe a few turret accuracy test has been already done.
    If you want to send me a couple ATACR I’d be more than happy to independently test them for you 😁
     
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    sjmpcc022

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    That was VERY interesting, it's bad ass someone took the time and effort to do that.
     

    Halberdier

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    First scope review I've seen using actual resolution charts. These are very common in camera lens reviews and are far more accurate than the "These are close, but the glass on X is a little clearer to my eye" that you get on most scope reviews.
     

    BuildingConceptsllc

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    Pretty cool test. Thanks for posting. The used kahles 525i remains a pretty solid deal, in "dollars per overall satisfaction ". If it weren't for that pesky ZCO I just had to use that one time..... I'd have nothing but kahles myself, but the truth is that it really does come down to the individual person and how it looks to them once you get into $3k+ optics, that and reticle preference is the biggest factor imo. Zco is the king IMO, but I have a few of em so I may be bias.
     

    Glassaholic

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    Interesting setup, does anyone on the Hide know this Kinetic Security site and who are behind it? Similar in some ways to the reviews I've done. The TT does struggle with flare during direct sunlight on the objective (what the reviewer is calling backlit) but is virtually unmatched when the light source is not reflecting off the objective but on the target. I've done extensive resolution chart testing and come up with very different results for TT and Schmidt 5-25 which makes me wonder what the reviewer's diopter setup process consisted of, they claim to have setup each scope for their eye but if all they did was the blue sky or plain wall test I would call into question whether or not the diopter was properly setup on some of these scopes. Setting up the diopter can be a bit tricky and the blue sky test can give a false positive in some situations which requires further refinement - what I call "fine tuning" the diopter. I do appreciate the effort, doing extensive tests on multiple scopes is very time consuming.
     

    Hoyt7mm

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    Same guy/company that makes the ATS tuners. You can probably message Aaron to get more details about his setup
     

    koshkin

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    Interesting setup, does anyone on the Hide know this Kinetic Security site and who are behind it? Similar in some ways to the reviews I've done. The TT does struggle with flare during direct sunlight on the objective (what the reviewer is calling backlit) but is virtually unmatched when the light source is not reflecting off the objective but on the target. I've done extensive resolution chart testing and come up with very different results for TT and Schmidt 5-25 which makes me wonder what the reviewer's diopter setup process consisted of, they claim to have setup each scope for their eye but if all they did was the blue sky or plain wall test I would call into question whether or not the diopter was properly setup on some of these scopes. Setting up the diopter can be a bit tricky and the blue sky test can give a false positive in some situations which requires further refinement - what I call "fine tuning" the diopter. I do appreciate the effort, doing extensive tests on multiple scopes is very time consuming.

    There is always sample variation and individual preferences. This test was very specific and narrow in scope in that it was all grey scale and with very little air between the scope and the target. It was also all done in good light which also means the eye pupils of the tsters were not at al dilated. That makes a big difference and helps a lot of scopes look good.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that all scopes were set on 20x. The way the magnification rings are marked on scopes is somewhat arbitrary, so on some the marked 20x location might mean 21x and on others it might mean 19x. During the HET6 test, I went and looked at how the FOV varies with magnification settings and it is not very linear. Top end magnification is usually fairly accurate, but as you go down from there, it is a crapshoot. ZCO 5-27x56, for example, seemed to have a touch less FOV than in their specs. It is entirely possible, that it is simply a touch more magnification than they claim. If that is the case, the resolution numbers in good light will be boosted a little. At some point, I'll put some effort into it and measure the actual magnifications of a few scopes.

    There can be a variety of problems with eyepiece and side focus setup or they could have done everything absolutely correctly. We really do not know and there is no reason to assume they screwed anything up.

    Honestly, if I were trying to do a PRS specific comparison like this, rather than try to match magnifications, I would try to match the FOVs. With FFP scopes, I very seldom know what magnification I am on when shooting. I just adjust it until I get the FOV I need. This approach generally favors wide FOV scopes since you will end up running them on a little more magnification, so scopes like Tangent, XTR Pro and Razor Gen3 will generally do well. It will probably make ZCO, Mark5, Razor HD-LHT and a few other designs look a little worse.

    I am about to get on the plane, but I'll pull up my FOV vs magnification measurements when I have a chance. I vaguely recall that 20x setting on the last ZCO I tested calculated out to be being somewhere around 22x actual magnification based on what their 27x FOV was, but my memory might be off.

    It is pretty easy to check if you have the scope: just use the reticle to see how wide the FOV is on 27x and 20x. The inverse of the ratio between magnifications should be essentially the same as the ratio of the FOVs.

    ILya
     

    Jefe's Dope

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    Reflects my anecdotal experience looking though mine and other shooter's scopes at the range or match. I'm not impressed with TT at all. And ZCOs seem to be just a bit better than all the others.

    Money no object, ZCO all day long.

    For what you can get a 525i for in the PX, the best bang for your buck. Easily a $1,000 cheaper than the street price listed in the test.

    But, it seems that any of these are quite adequate for all our shooting needs. Buy what fits your budget and quit using your scope as an excuse.
     

    Glassaholic

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    There is always sample variation and individual preferences. This test was very specific and narrow in scope in that it was all grey scale and with very little air between the scope and the target. It was also all done in good light which also means the eye pupils of the tsters were not at al dilated. That makes a big difference and helps a lot of scopes look good.
    That's a good point about dilation, this is why I always try to do low light testing with the scopes as this is often what really differentiates. I suppose in fairness to this particular test, they mention it is for PRS and I think by far the majority of PRS competitions happen during daylight hours. But for other readers out there, be aware that just because a scope performs very well during the day does not always equate to it performing well when light levels begin to drop. I found this out very early on in my own testing and have done low light testing ever since.
    Another thing to keep in mind is that all scopes were set on 20x. The way the magnification rings are marked on scopes is somewhat arbitrary, so on some the marked 20x location might mean 21x and on others it might mean 19x. During the HET6 test, I went and looked at how the FOV varies with magnification settings and it is not very linear. Top end magnification is usually fairly accurate, but as you go down from there, it is a crapshoot.
    That is a good point. I remember Cal at Precision Rifle Blog tried to do some magnification comparison using photoshop but that seemed like it had its own issues without having some type of calibration for the camera (phone, dslr, etc.) behind the scope which seemed like it could throw off the image (if not perfectly centered and in same spot each time) and provide a "perceived" magnification vs. actual magnification, but maybe that's about the closest you could get with limited funds and non-calibrated equipment.
    ZCO 5-27x56, for example, seemed to have a touch less FOV than in their specs. It is entirely possible, that it is simply a touch more magnification than they claim. If that is the case, the resolution numbers in good light will be boosted a little. At some point, I'll put some effort into it and measure the actual magnifications of a few scopes.
    I recall you referencing that before, I would be curious how far "off" actual magnifications can be.
    There can be a variety of problems with eyepiece and side focus setup or they could have done everything absolutely correctly. We really do not know and there is no reason to assume they screwed anything up.
    Sometimes I see wonky images and think I must have screwed something up, I usually go back and re-tune diopters just to make sure. In a few cases I did get a wonky scope that a manufacturer had to address.
    Honestly, if I were trying to do a PRS specific comparison like this, rather than try to match magnifications, I would try to match the FOVs. With FFP scopes, I very seldom know what magnification I am on when shooting. I just adjust it until I get the FOV I need. This approach generally favors wide FOV scopes since you will end up running them on a little more magnification, so scopes like Tangent, XTR Pro and Razor Gen3 will generally do well. It will probably make ZCO, Mark5, Razor HD-LHT and a few other designs look a little worse.
    Your idea about setting up by FOV would also provide faulty outcomes (potentially) based on the different magnification between scopes at corresponding FOV settings, in other words, if scope X is set to FOV of 6' at 100 yards for example and scope Y is also set for the same, scope X could be at 20x magnification while scope Y is actually at 22x magnification so that when looking at line resolution graph and/or contrast values scope Y may yield slightly better numbers, but more due to the fact that magnification was slightly higher more than anything else right? I have thought about a better method for control in these situations but have not come up with one and therefore I too rely on the manufacturer's marked magnification which as you mention could be "off" from actual. I just don't know a better method but am open to thoughts and ideas.
    I am about to get on the plane, but I'll pull up my FOV vs magnification measurements when I have a chance. I vaguely recall that 20x setting on the last ZCO I tested calculated out to be being somewhere around 22x actual magnification based on what their 27x FOV was, but my memory might be off.

    It is pretty easy to check if you have the scope: just use the reticle to see how wide the FOV is on 27x and 20x. The inverse of the ratio between magnifications should be essentially the same as the ratio of the FOVs.
    Maybe that's the key, but this is math and math makes my brain hurt :) I rely too much on computers to do math for me (my dad was an aeronautical engineer for Lockheed Skunkworks and is probably rolling in his grave - sorry dad :D)
     

    wcsshooter

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    Accuracy of turret movement, is 1/4 MOA or 1/10 MIL adjustment truly those values & Repeatability after changing elevation and windage, return to zero as what you would see in a box test would need to be in it for me. Personal opinion. I could have the best glass as one would interpret from the results, but it would not be worth a dime if the scope could not maintain repeatability and accuracy of measurement when making changes to the windage or elevation turrets. My two cents worth and I think Cal at Precision Rifle blog had a pretty good evaluation several years ago on his site.
     

    John Baker

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    There is always sample variation and individual preferences. This test was very specific and narrow in scope in that it was all grey scale and with very little air between the scope and the target. It was also all done in good light which also means the eye pupils of the tsters were not at al dilated. That makes a big difference and helps a lot of scopes look good.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that all scopes were set on 20x. The way the magnification rings are marked on scopes is somewhat arbitrary, so on some the marked 20x location might mean 21x and on others it might mean 19x. During the HET6 test, I went and looked at how the FOV varies with magnification settings and it is not very linear. Top end magnification is usually fairly accurate, but as you go down from there, it is a crapshoot. ZCO 5-27x56, for example, seemed to have a touch less FOV than in their specs. It is entirely possible, that it is simply a touch more magnification than they claim. If that is the case, the resolution numbers in good light will be boosted a little. At some point, I'll put some effort into it and measure the actual magnifications of a few scopes.

    There can be a variety of problems with eyepiece and side focus setup or they could have done everything absolutely correctly. We really do not know and there is no reason to assume they screwed anything up.

    Honestly, if I were trying to do a PRS specific comparison like this, rather than try to match magnifications, I would try to match the FOVs. With FFP scopes, I very seldom know what magnification I am on when shooting. I just adjust it until I get the FOV I need. This approach generally favors wide FOV scopes since you will end up running them on a little more magnification, so scopes like Tangent, XTR Pro and Razor Gen3 will generally do well. It will probably make ZCO, Mark5, Razor HD-LHT and a few other designs look a little worse.

    I am about to get on the plane, but I'll pull up my FOV vs magnification measurements when I have a chance. I vaguely recall that 20x setting on the last ZCO I tested calculated out to be being somewhere around 22x actual magnification based on what their 27x FOV was, but my memory might be off.

    It is pretty easy to check if you have the scope: just use the reticle to see how wide the FOV is on 27x and 20x. The inverse of the ratio between magnifications should be essentially the same as the ratio of the FOVs.

    ILya
    Hello ILya,

    We do a full resolution test on all of our optics and any scope we can lay our hands on- new, old and really old. The test is set at 50yds in order to allow many scopes to arrive within the "center" of the scale presented by the resolution target. It is also in a shaded area, with a "bright" zone in front of it in order to look at "glare". The resolution target is standard Air Force with one major twist- our bars, which are at specified widths, have three color bars within each individual bar. In other words each bar is subdivided into Red, Blue, and Green. Blue and Green are adjacent to each other as they quickly become "brown" as the scope looses color resolution. We track the last target set in which separation of each line can be detected in both vertical and horizontal planes. We find that their is often a slight discrepancy. We then repeat the test for the color separation both horizontally and vertically. I promise you the 4 tests don't all line up. One of the scopes noted as a "top" unit is our standard "go to" when testing auxiliary optics. We can test in real conditions to 5miles (at assembly), but the subjectivity, atmosphere and light conditions are just not reliable. Looking at small lines at a known distance with specific color content lines things up pretty quick.
    While the color test is "base" it cannot describe a persons preference as to what they like to "see" - the subjective component. Or what the customer wants to see at what time of the day/hunt. As you well know the systems are most likely "broad band" in nature but things can be shifted towards blue or red. The shift while satisfying a specific light condition might let another become "less".

    We chose the Air Force system to help reduce the users "eye" variance- astigmatism mainly. When viewing a new optic we also base line multiple users in order to reduce user to user variance and current eye fatigue (or to much caffeine). Position on the scope becomes critical as you try to discern the smallest target sets you can view. The AF system lines are such that we have not found a scope to nearly push its limits- rifle mounted that is.

    We will have to see if we can incorporate a DOF test within our test. At times a long depth of field seems advantageous (trace) and at others a narrow DOF seems advantageous (mirage). It would be interesting to see the potential DOF based on movements of the Parallax system and if they stay- rather how close - to staying on the same plane.
     

    avidflyer

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    Hello ILya,

    We do a full resolution test on all of our optics and any scope we can lay our hands on- new, old and really old. The test is set at 50yds in order to allow many scopes to arrive within the "center" of the scale presented by the resolution target. It is also in a shaded area, with a "bright" zone in front of it in order to look at "glare". The resolution target is standard Air Force with one major twist- our bars, which are at specified widths, have three color bars within each individual bar. In other words each bar is subdivided into Red, Blue, and Green. Blue and Green are adjacent to each other as they quickly become "brown" as the scope looses color resolution. We track the last target set in which separation of each line can be detected in both vertical and horizontal planes. We find that their is often a slight discrepancy. We then repeat the test for the color separation both horizontally and vertically. I promise you the 4 tests don't all line up. One of the scopes noted as a "top" unit is our standard "go to" when testing auxiliary optics. We can test in real conditions to 5miles (at assembly), but the subjectivity, atmosphere and light conditions are just not reliable. Looking at small lines at a known distance with specific color content lines things up pretty quick.
    While the color test is "base" it cannot describe a persons preference as to what they like to "see" - the subjective component. Or what the customer wants to see at what time of the day/hunt. As you well know the systems are most likely "broad band" in nature but things can be shifted towards blue or red. The shift while satisfying a specific light condition might let another become "less".

    We chose the Air Force system to help reduce the users "eye" variance- astigmatism mainly. When viewing a new optic we also base line multiple users in order to reduce user to user variance and current eye fatigue (or to much caffeine). Position on the scope becomes critical as you try to discern the smallest target sets you can view. The AF system lines are such that we have not found a scope to nearly push its limits- rifle mounted that is.

    We will have to see if we can incorporate a DOF test within our test. At times a long depth of field seems advantageous (trace) and at others a narrow DOF seems advantageous (mirage). It would be interesting to see the potential DOF based on movements of the Parallax system and if they stay- rather how close - to staying on the same plane.
    Who is we?
     

    John Baker

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    Who is we?
    Owner of TACOMHQ
    We produce a range of devices made to enhance any optic and have it perform beyond its normal range/turret travel. This includes Red Dots, LPVO's, ACOG, and higher end scopes. Some of the devices we specialize in are used exclusively in extreme ELR, testing of optics is a pretty important requirement.
     

    Glassaholic

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    We produce a range of devices made to enhance any optic and have it perform beyond its normal range/turret travel. This includes Red Dots, LPVO's, ACOG, and higher end scopes. Some of the devices we specialize in are used exclusively in extreme ELR, testing of optics is a pretty important requirement.
    Home of the Charlie Tarac, used one at our ELR shoot last month ;)
     
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    rnlzkbrs

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    Setting up the diopter can be a bit tricky and the blue sky test can give a false positive in some situations which requires further refinement - what I call "fine tuning" the diopter.
    Hi @Glassaholic,
    do you have a diopter fine tuning process documented somewhere? Could you please share a link?
    Thank you!
     
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    Glassaholic

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    Hi @Glassaholic,
    do you have a diopter fine tuning process documented somewhere? Could you please share a link?
    Thank you!

    I put this together after @hk dave shared his thoughts on TT experience a few years back, @koshkin also has some videos that touch on this some. ZCO has one of the better diopter instructions that I've seen in the industry but ILya even takes it a step further saying go as low as power as you can yet still maintain reticle detail. Take a look at the attached PDF
     

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    3rdfocal

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    I own an ATACR, Razor G3, and MK5. The 7-35 MK5 really does hold its own. Not surprised with the results of this test.
     

    jh2785

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    Interesting setup, does anyone on the Hide know this Kinetic Security site and who are behind it? Similar in some ways to the reviews I've done. The TT does struggle with flare during direct sunlight on the objective (what the reviewer is calling backlit) but is virtually unmatched when the light source is not reflecting off the objective but on the target. I've done extensive resolution chart testing and come up with very different results for TT and Schmidt 5-25 which makes me wonder what the reviewer's diopter setup process consisted of, they claim to have setup each scope for their eye but if all they did was the blue sky or plain wall test I would call into question whether or not the diopter was properly setup on some of these scopes. Setting up the diopter can be a bit tricky and the blue sky test can give a false positive in some situations which requires further refinement - what I call "fine tuning" the diopter. I do appreciate the effort, doing extensive tests on multiple scopes is very time consuming.
    What are your thoughts on the results for the Zeiss in their test? Scored pretty bad! But if something wasn't set up correctly as you wonder.....perhaps that skews the results. I'm surprised to see it so low. And frankly, NF so high. My eyes have never really been impressed with NF given their price.
     

    Glassaholic

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    What are your thoughts on the results for the Zeiss in their test? Scored pretty bad! But if something wasn't set up correctly as you wonder.....perhaps that skews the results. I'm surprised to see it so low. And frankly, NF so high. My eyes have never really been impressed with NF given their price.
    I have no idea if anything was or was not setup properly, I just know with many scopes it is easy to think you've dialed in the diopter appropriately until you actually start shooting with it. Take a look at hk daves review he did a while back -
    My experience mimics his with regard to setting up the diopter - there is a broad range where the reticle looks perfectly in focus to my eyes thus giving me the thought that it is set properly until I shoot it and notice the overall image seems to be a bit "off", after reading his post and talking with ILya more about it I adopted the fine tuning method and began to get better results with what I was seeing through the scope.

    My question with the above review is that their results do no match with the results I have seen from tangent vs. zco vs. schmidt. Is ZCO at the top of the heap, absolutely (in my testing); however, tangent has always been slightly better in overall optical performance (this is where the "splitting hairs" comment usually enters the conversation) as long as you're not looking into the sun - if that is a situation you are going to find yourself in frequently then you need to be aware that TT does suffer from quite a bit of flare given the right conditions (this is where a sunshade or ARD will really help).

    With regard to Zeiss, I have not seen one as they really don't appeal to me (but appear to be very nice scopes); however, ILya has recently reviewed them and was impressed with their optical performance. He would be a better resource to ask about how Zeiss stacks up, you can also view his review here:


    He also has a high end 56mm review here that covers some of the scopes from the Kinetics review:


    Understand I am not trying to start an argument here, I realize all our eyes are different and we do have preferences with what we see when we look through an optic. If you bought and used a tangent and an ATACR and felt at the end of the day the ATACR looked better to you, who am I to argue - that was your experience; is it possible you did not have the diopter setup properly, it sure is but again, how would anyone know for sure? All I'm saying is that I've seen a lot of scopes over the years (and made some mistakes too) and I can say with confidence that TT, ZCO and Minox ZP5 tend to stand above the rest when it comes to optical performance, that being said, there are many "cheaper" scopes that perform extremely well and are perfectly capable of getting the job done. The best advise I can give for someone looking to pay $2500 and above for a scope is find a reticle you like (afterall this is something you have to look at every time you look through the scope and use for adjusting for wind and/or elevation), then look for the mechanics that suite you best (turret feel/function), obviously there are a number of other factors like mag range, FOV, eyebox, parallax and so on but choosing a scope based purely on "best optical performance" is going to lead you down a rabbit hole that mostly ends in frustration; whereas, looking for a scope based on other features that fit your intended purpose will yield much better success IMO. As to the question of "make sure the scope tracks proper and is repeatable" that is absolutely crucial, but the reason I did not mention it is that I have not heard any major complaints on any of the above mentioned scopes not tracking properly.

    Killswitch Engage used to do video tracking tests years ago that I found interesting, I am not sure why he stopped and why many don't do something similar and feel like the threat of a lawsuit may have shut that down, plus a lot of times we hear about these issues from a sample of one and even the best manufacturers' can have a bum scope that gets out there and of course, the internet being what it is, that is usually the ones we hear the most about.
     

    BCX

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    CSTactical should start a fundraiser w the intention of a top tier scope torture test. I think its doable with the amount of high rollers here. ;)
     
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    BCX

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    Thanks for the correction! I am not up to date on 2A friendly sites.
     

    Glassaholic

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    Panhandle, FL
    CSTactical should start a fundraiser w the intention of a top tier scope torture test. I think its doable with the amount of high rollers here. ;)
    Adam Cloaninger did a torture test of his ZCO a few years ago, had some videos. “Field proven” is probably a good explanation for a lot of scopes that don’t have NF marketing $$$$$
     
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    BigJimFish

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    Minuteman
    Jul 24, 2011
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    My thoughts:

    1) Their scoring system using the line numbers of a variety of different charts is pretty clever. Probably the fairest numerical scoring scheme I have seen a reviewer attempt.

    2) Resolution is the most important aspect of a scopes optical performance, but a test measuring just center field performance with centered adjustments at an uncalibrated 20x marking on the tube has a lot of caveats stacked on what began as a test of only a single aspect of performance. Even with the soul goal of trying to gain as much information as possible about shot placement on steel, DoF can help by adding trace, chromatic aberration can just totally fuck you by muddying the image, how much the performance degrades as the adjustments move from center matters, contrast can be of great help in making out the grey of a splash from the whitish gray of the painted steel, and some optics just perform better when it comes to dealing with mirage which can be a huge factor. This all also ignores the elephant in the room that just being able to dial up more magnification generally beats out resolution in importance when it comes to making out fine detail. To put it more simply I don't think enough of the right stuff is being measured to give people an idea of how these scopes stack up as optical performers in the limited context of PRS use.

    3) The three models listed that I have directly tested side by side landed in the order they have them listed in the dimension of resolution though the order was different in overall optical performance.