Sig Saur Buckmasters 3-9×40

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https://youtu.be/j122Sh8sHwk

Sig Saur is a Swiss firearms company with an historic reputation for making rifles and pistols built to Swiss engineered quality. But recently they’ve also been releasing a line of accessories and optics at a competitive price like their popular Romeo line of red dots. Their Buckmasters 3-9x40mm is their least expensive magnified hunting scope at around $100 or under.

Unlike other budget price tier 3-9x scopes, the Buckmasters appears to be well built. It has a tight and well built tube with clear markings and smooth moving components. A good indication is the moulded SIG branded lens caps. A company that was just cashing in their brand on trash optics would have settled for unbraded caps or cheap printing on generic caps.

Typical of hunting scopes, the caps are capped which protects the turrets from the elements, moisture, and accidental bumps. The turrets are resettable using the included Allen wrench. They turn with nice audable clicks and are tactile positive, with only a little slop. In testing, the turrets returned to zero in box tests.

The scope has a BDC reticle but oddly manual doesn’t provide information as to the ammo and rifle used to establish the reticles dope markings. Perhaps this is an admission to the failure of this reticle type to live up to its promise because it’s unlikely the buyer will have the exact same rifle and use the exact same ammo. That said, I prefer reticles with any type of hold mark to provide a reference point for applying hold overs with follow up shots.

Optically, the scope’s sharpness and resolution was typical of 3-9x, in the Group -2 category using a 8.5″x11″ USAF Optical Resolution chart at 100yrds. But unlike typical budget scopes, the Buckmasters displayed no chromatic aberration and maintained an even sharpness and focus from center to edge. In addition, the scope maintained about a 3.5″-4″eye relief and decent eye box.

For the price, this scope exhibits better optics than the similarly priced Bushnell Banner and much better build quality and clarity than cheaper CVLife and other no-name scopes. It does have a limited lifetime warranty which isn’t as forgiving as Vortex’s but if you don’t abuse your gear, it should be effectively the same.

Support this publication by buying this scope on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3pFaibb

RESOLUTION
Group: -2
Element: 5

OVERALL RATINGS (out 5)
Build: 4
Glass: 4
Reticle: 3
Holds Zero: 5
Box Test: 5
Turrets: 4
Eye Box: 3
Value: 4

SPECS

Power: 3-9x

Objective: 40mm

Weight: 400g

Tube Dia.: 1”

Tube Length: 12.5”

FOV@100y: 11.349”-34.1”

Eye Relief: 3.85”-4.17”

Exit Pupil: 4.4-13.3mm

UTG 2-7×32 Scout Scope

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The KelTec Sub2000 is an unusual rifle in many respects. It is a pistol caliber carbine that is designed to split and fold in half for easy and compact transport as a ‘backpacking rifle’. But because of this design, the built-in Picatinny rail for optics is located on the top of the handguard and not the top of the receiver.

That’s fine for red dots but the far forward position means that the only magnified scope you can use on a Sub2000 is a long-eye relief scout scope or pistol scope. Only a handful of companies seem to make scout scopes with variable magnification over 4x: Burris, Hi-Lux, Vortex and a few dubious no-name models “made for Mosin”.

I thought I’d try out a pistol scope instead, which have slightly longer eye-relief than scouting scopes. I chose the UTG/Leper 2-7×32 because it was the only scope in it’s price tier with something other than a duplex reticle (a BDC reticle has it’s issues but can be worked with if you learn its dope).

The turrets are old-school and small. They are meant for hunters and not competition shooters, featuring capped turrets without a zero stop. I’ve owned this scope for about 5 years and it’s held its zero after hundreds of rounds of 9mm.

Mounting on the Sub2000 was not without challenges. The Sub2000 has unusually tall front sights for which even high scope rings were not sufficiently tall enough to clear. I had to add a Quick-Detatch 1″ riser (the Sub2000 is designed to fold when stowed so I needed a quick and easy way to remove the scope). I had an oddball riser in my spare parts bin but if I had to get one today, I’d probably go with a wing nut style QD riser.

The 2-7 variable optic scope was a welcome aid for my old eyes on 100yrd targest. While the optics are not in the same class as a Vortex or Burris, this scope is quite effective and usable. I could easily see and aim at 3″ targets from 100yrds.

If you’re interested in buying a UTG 2-7×32 scope they’re available on Amazon through this link: https://amzn.to/3PvDLiM

For a Quick Detach riser, I recommend the Ohunt 1.1″: https://amzn.to/3ACTRCt

Sniper ZY 4-14×44

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https://youtu.be/aYtTXSjh8Bs

Texas Precision Optics sent me a Sniper ZY 4-14×44 FFP scope to test and its specs were impressive. With a street-price just under $140, you get a First Focal Plane (FFP) scope with HD glass, illumination, locking turrets, and a set of high-rise scope rings and additional accessories. Too good to be true?

Like many of TPO’s scopes, the ZY came pre-mounted out of the box. The scope rings are typical budget/generic Picatinny scope rings. No recoil lugs and rounded cross bolts. It has a 30mm tube and many shooters will likely buy higher quality rings or mounts.

The scope itself appeared will built with solid looking turrets. There was a fair amount of slop between clicks. This is not a precision long-range scope but it did hold zero at the range.

The scopes most unique features is the cogwheel shaped ends. The Sniper’s OEM was definitely going for a gear and tool aesthetic in the externals. Unfortunately the cogweel at the eye-piece had pretty sharp edges, making changing ocular focus uncomfortable. It could really use a bit of sanding/buffing the edges.

Optically, the scope has better than average sharpness and resolution for a 4-14x scope. There was noticeable blurring toward the outside edges of your field of view. The thin inner reticle can be illuminated in red or green with 5 level of intensity.

Available on Amazon
https://amzn.to/3Hjv48m

RESOLUTION
Group: -2
Element: 6

OVERALL RATINGS (out 5)
Build: 4
Glass: 4
Reticle: 4
Holds Zero: 4
Turrets: 3
Eye Box: 3
Value: 5

Leupold Mark3HD 8-24×50

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I bought my first Leupold a Mark 3HD 8-24×50 to pair with my new Ruger Precision Rimfire 22LR rifle. Its optical performance did not disappoint. In my camera testing and naked-eye observation it produced stunningly sharp and bright images with its HD glass.

Using the USAF-51 optical resolution chart, I could see resolution lines down to Group 0 which put this scope in the same league as some 60mm and 80mm spotting scopes! In glass performance, this is the sharpest and brightest scope I’ve tested in the sub $900 tier. Not surprisingly, only its big brother, the Mark 5 was able to resolve even smaller elements on the chart but that scope is four times the price.

While I had this on a 22LR, this scope is better suited for a high-power rifle. At 8x, it’s eye relief was well over 5″ behind the eye-piece at low power. This proved to be a challenge in filming as my phone/camera mount could not really be extended that far. At high-power the eye relief contracted slightly but the eye-box did quite profoundly; at 24x its eye-box was rather unforgiving.

It’s low, hunting profile turrets were a bit disappointing. The clicks were soft and muffled. But the tracking was dead-nuts accurate. The elevation turret had a precise and easy to use zero-stop and the windage was covered by a cap, hunting-style.

It has a 2nd focal plane Mil-Spec metal P5 TMR reticle. They way Leupold designed their Mk3, it uses the exact same reticle scrim plate as the lower power Mk3 but enlarged at a fixed 24x size. Because its a 2nd focal plane, the reticle size doesn’t change. Unfortunately, this also means the reticle appears overly thick at low power. This may be great for hunters who prefer a reticle that doesn’t get lost in their field of view. But a thick reticle is anathema to precision shooters because it obscures small targets and bullseyes.


Unfortunately this was a dealbreaker for me. While I love the glass clarity and Leupold’s reputation for reliability, the reticle made this a hard-pass for me. Regretfully, I returned it and will have to look for one of Leupold’s other models for my needs.

Available on Amazon
8-24×50 https://amzn.to/3xq9hsA
6-18×50 https://amzn.to/3KKZSzH

RESOLUTION
Group: -1
Element: 5-6

OVERALL RATINGS (out 5)
Build: 5
Glass: 5+
Reticle: 3
Holds Zero: 5
Box Test: 5
Turrets: 5
Eye Box: 5
Value: 5

Shot Show 2022: Hawke Frontier34

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Break barrel hunting airguns are notorious for destroying even the highest end scope because of their jarring 2-way recoil. So any scope that can hold zero on an airgun has to be exceptionally well built. Hawke Optics may not be as well known in the US as Burris, Bushnell, Vortex, and Leupold but this British optics brand is the largest maker of airgun scopes, which says a lot more about their durability than a mere warranty (and yes, they too have a “No-Fault Lifetime Warranty”).

At their Shot Show booth I got a chance to inspect their newest scope in the Frontier line with a 34mm tube. This scope’s feature set and price put it in competition with Vortex and Leupold top-tier offerings for long distance optics. I hope to get my hands on one when they release it later this year.

Shot Show 2022: Zeiss LRP S5 5-25×56

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Zeiss is a legendary optics manufacturer in industry, photography, science, and in hunting; creating world-class rifle scopes, binoculars, spotting scopes. If you own a high-end or +$1,000 scope that boasts “German made glass”, chances are that glass was manufactured by Zeiss.

Zeiss’s rifle scope offerings have been largely catering to heeled hunters. Their rifle scope models start at just under $900 and go up into $4000 depending on your region. They have been slow adopt features from the tactical and LRP world. Most of their scope models remain SFP.

At this year’s Shot Show, they showcased their new “LRP” S5 models which address the growing long-distance shooting market. These scopes feature beefed up locking turrets, a FFP reticle, and a 140 MOA / 40 MilRads of internal elevation adjustment, and of course Zeiss’ famous Shot Glass with 90% light transfer.

While Zeiss claims “best-in-class” elevation adjustments I know that Riton and Vortex have scopes with more than 40MILs of elevation adjustment. Maybe they consider their “class” to be scopes with MSRPs over $3K?

Order this on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3IlJu7r

Leupold Mark5HD 7-35×56

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I got an opportunity to test out a scope that costs more than any of my rifles. This Mark5HD is one of Leupold’s top of the line rifle scopes with a MSRP of $2499. This high-performance, first-focal-plane scope has HD glass and is optimized for extreme long distance shooters.

It features a Horus-style reticle with a tall grid of of mRad sub-tension marks taking the place of the lower center cross-hair. In addition the scope has 30 mils (100 MOA) of vertical adjustment, twice the range of its windage adjustment range 15 mils (50 MOA).

The elevation turret is wide and exposed but is locked. A wide turret release button is ergonomically place so that you cna press it down as you turn the turret to make adjustments. It has a unique mechanical zero stop that stops every full rotation. The turret cap is held in place with 2 set screws which must be loosened by allen wrench to re-zero. The windage turret is covered with a screw on cap.

The glass quality is exceptional as to be expected from a >$1000 scope from Leupold. Using the USAF-51 test, I could make out details to Group 0, Element 1. This is sharper than many spotting scopes I’ve tested. The eye box is good and the eye-relief is even better. It’s max power eye-relief is actually a bit longer than it’s low-power; 3.8″ eye-relief at max power (35x), that’s longer than most cheaper scopes at low-power.

Despite all of its amazing performance, if I had the opportunity to buy this scope I probably wouldn’t. None of the ranges I frequent are longer than 200yrds and this scope comes to its own at 600yrds or more. It’s complex CCH reticle is actually a bit too cluttered at 100yrds when zoomed up to 35x; so much so that I found it difficult to spot my holes on paper. I appreciate the power and performance of this scope, it’s just a better fit for another shooter.

AFFILIATE LINK
Buy this scope on Amazon : https://amzn.to/3qyD0vI

RESOLUTION
Group: 0
Element: 1

OVERALL RATINGS (out 5)
Build: 5
Glass: +5
Reticle: 4
Holds Zero: +5
Box Test: +5
Turrets: +5
Eye Box: 4
Value: +3*

*It’s over $2000, it’s not a bargain but you get what you pay for