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Optics of Kahles CL 3-9x42 compared to CL 4-12x52?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/18/2009 at 08:38
twofer View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
Optics GrassHopper

Joined: November/13/2006
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Points: 35
I am a big fan of Kahles scopes.  For my budget, the Kahles CL models have hit the sweet spot for price vs. performance. 
My scope needs are oriented to hunting elk in the Colorado mountains.  I cover a lot of ground and elevation when pursuing the wapiti, and a lightweight rilfe with a trim scope is my preferred hunting rig.  Consequently, I carry a Kimber Montana in .300 WSM which shoots 1/2", 3-shot, 100 yd. groups after some customization work, topped with a Kahles CL 3-9x42 scope.  This is a light weight and high performance hunting set-up well suited for my hunting style and quarry. 
While the 3-9 scope is great for hunting, having a little more magnification is nice when shooting from the bench.  Accordingly, I picked up a Kahles 4-12x52 scope for my target shooting/load development.  Once I am done shooting and ready to head to the field, I swap out the big 4-12 for the trim 3-9 scope.
The optics of the Kahles CL 3-9x42 are absolutely outstanding.  I have never had any kind of complaint with the view through this scope.  I have done a side-by-side comparison with a similar Zeiss scope, and the Kahles 3-9 looked better to my eye.   The contrast and clarity of the Kahles 3-9 leave nothing to be desired, and I could happily hunt with this scope for the next few decades with never a thought to upgrading the optics.
However, the view through the Kahles 4-12 is not quite up to par with the 3-9, to my eyes.  It appears to me that the 4-12 is not quite as clear or contrasty as the 3-9.
I am wondering if any one else has noticed this?  I am also wondering if what I am seeing is a difference in performance between the two models due to the slightly different optical designs (i.e. 3-9x42 vs. 4-12x52).  Or, am I seeing a variation from one scope to the next due to differences in manufacturing tolerances?
Also, I am thinking about replaing my Kahles two-scope set for a single Swarovski 3.5-18x44 Z5 scope.
Any suggestions, comments, etc. are welcome.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/18/2009 at 09:57
RifleDude View Drop Down

Joined: October/13/2006
Location: Texas
Status: Offline
Points: 14242
I can't comment on the issues you're seeing with your 4-12X56 except to say that, all else being equal, greater magnification presents greater demands on optical quality to obtain high image quality.  The higher the magnification, the more apparent optical aberrations become.
If it were me, I would just keep the 3-9X42 CL and either sell the 4-12 or find another rifle to mount it to.  The 3-9 provides all the magnification you need for big game hunting.  Sure, the 4-12 gives you a little better target precision, but a Kimber Montana isn't exactly a target rifle; it's a hard-core lightweight hunting rifle meant to be carried far more than shot.  If you are getting honest 1/2" groups, I would consider the load development work to be over and would just enjoy the rifle for what it was designed for -- big game hunting.  The Kahles 3-9X42 CL is an outstanding hunting scope with world-class optics that is hard to match with another scope. 
A Swaro Z5 would certainly add additional zoom flexibility, but I doubt it would be significantly better optically, if at all, than the Kahles.  If my experience with Swaro scopes in general is any indication, I'm sure the Z5 would be a very nice scope, but I certainly don't think it's worth the resale value of 2 Kahles CL's, at least not to me.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/18/2009 at 09:59
hunter12345 View Drop Down
Optics Journeyman
Optics Journeyman

Joined: November/21/2007
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Points: 470
I owned both Kahles scopes and liked the 4-12x52 better.The 4-12x52 was brighter in low light but both were crystal clear glass.   
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/18/2009 at 10:23
twofer View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
Optics GrassHopper

Joined: November/13/2006
Status: Offline
Points: 35
Rifle Dude - Thanks for your comments.  I've never looked through a Swarovski scope, but I am not surprised that the Kahles CL optics compare favorably to the Swarovski Z6.   And I agree that the 3-9 is ideal for hunting.  Higher magnification would be helpful for target shooting, though.  Also, while load development is done for 180 gn bullets, I am interested in seeing if I can find a good load for 200 gn bullets.
hunter12345 - Your experience is helpful.  I am thinking maybe I should send the 4-12x52 into Kahles for adjustment.
BTW, the rifle is a true 1/2" gun.  Last weekend at the range it shot the following 3-shot, 100yd groups with Federal Premium 180 gn Barnes TSX factory ammo:    0.396", 0.421", 0.717" (w/ called flyer), 0.594", 0.618" for a 0.549" avg.  It is hard to believe that any gun can shoot factory ammo so well.  The work on the Kimber includes truing the action, trigger job, sleeving the bolt, bushing the firing pin, installing and pinning a trued recoil lug, and installing a Bartlein barrel with factory contour.  The Kimber Montana comes from the factory pillar bedded, to which an additional skim bedding was added.  The work was done by Greg Tannel of Gre-Tan Rifles in Colorado.
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