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SHOT 2010 Optics Overview

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koshkin View Drop Down
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    Posted: January/26/2010 at 18:50
SHOT Show 2010

Now that I am back from SHOT and safely ensconced in the comfort of my extensive collection of single malt scotches, I sprawled out in a Lazy-Boy armchair surrounded by my not-so-copious notes from the show last week.My notes and observations are not very copious because this year's show was relatively sedate. Still, there are enough things to report on.  I will first go through a list of optics companies I visited (in no particular order) and then offer some general observations in the end. Over the next few days (after I post the first draft), I will look over the various brochures I brought back from the show and add whatever additional information that provokes.  I will also add a few pictures that I took.
Minox
Minox is entering the rifle scope market with some 3x and 5x erector scopes.  They told me that the glass is German, the mechanicals are from Asia (China, I think) and assembly is done in the US (I am not sure by whom).  There are four models: 3-9x40, 2-10x40, 3-15x42 and 4-20x50. Optically, they looked all right.  I did not like the knobs.  I will ask the Minox guy I talked to for a loaner to run against the competition.  Given a choice, I would like to evaluate the ZA-3 3-9x42 scope since it is likely to be the biggest seller.Some of Minox binocular production has been moved from Japan to Germany, but most product lines continue with the same design, so do not expect major changes.   However, APO HG and HG binoculars went away from using aspheric lenses in an attempt to gain some field of view.  Field of view is indeed wider than it used to be, but still not quite as wide as that of the similarly priced competition.  It is good glass though and Minox' competitive advantage is light weight.  HG with 52mm objective lens weighs about the same as a competing 42mm designs.  If you are looking for light weight low light binocular, HG 8.5x52 is probably worth looking at.  If they make APO HG at some point, it will become even more compelling.  I am not sure whether the price will be effected by the manufacturing location.  I was told that the labor costs in Germany and Japan are similar right now. There are also a couple of new BL binocular models with split bridge design.
Meopta
Meopta had a small booth over in the corner of the show floor, so I made it out there fairly late in the show.  It was definitely worth the walk.  I always liked Meopta glass, but their scopes traditionally have had short eye relief and been fairly heavy.  This year Meopta is introducing a line of 1" tube scopes called MeoPro.  All the components are made in the Czech Republic and the assembly is done here in US by Meopta USA.  Optical quality is supposed to be similar to the 30mm MeoStar scopes but there is a bit more eyerelief (3.75" or thereabouts).  Knobs are also, ostensibly, redesigned for better accuracy.  These scopes are priced to compete against Zeiss Conquest and, I think, Minox.  I'll try to set up a scope comparison using a 3-9x42 version (4-12x50 and 6-18x50 are the other configurations).Also new is a line up of assembled in US MeoPro binoculars that are substantially cheaper than Meostars.  Most welcome is a roof prism 6.5x32 that should retail in the $350 range.  It will be interesting to see how it fares against Vortex Viper 6x32. Other models are 8x42 and 10x42.One of the more interesting scopes in Meopta's original line-up is the 1-4x22 K-Dot.  There is now a second version of that scope, which is slightly shorter and lighter with a new reticle and brighter illumination.  This reticle is similar to the original K-Dot, but has three chevrons for holdover calibrated to match 5.56 round at 300, 400 and 500 yards (assuming 200 yard zero). 
Vortex
This was the most exciting booth on the show floor (for me).  There was a fair amount of new stuff and most of it is right up my alley.  Most of these products were announced a bit earlier, but this was my first opportunity to see them.Viper PST scopes offer 30mm main tubes, 4x erectors and interesting reticles.  The models are 1-4x24 (SFP), 2.5-10x44 (SFP), 4-16x50 (FFP and SFP) and 6-24x50 (FFP and SFP).  All models are available with matched Mil reticle/Mil knobs or MOA reticle/MOA knobs configurations (a concept of matching reticles and knobs is finally gaining some ground with many manufacturers).  Al models have ~4" of eye relief and reticle illumination controlled by a small knob on the eyepiece.  I really liked 1-4x24 and 4-16x50.  I think these two models will do exceptionally well.  6-24x50 was very good as well. 2.5-10x44 was a bit of a let down since the tunnel vision is quite pronounced  That is quite a shame since this is easily one of my favourite allround configurations.  It is a decent scope, but to be blunt, is not up to the standards of the rest of the Viper PST line.  These scopes should be available some time in the spring and will retail in the $500 to $900 range depending on the configuration.  If you are looking for a scope to put on your M4, 1-4x24 Viper PST should be high on your list.  With more than 200MOA of adjustment range available this is very versatile scope.  For a precision rifle, I think 4-16x50FFP with good glass, solid mechanicals and 75MOA adjustment range rocks.  A slightly larger 6-24x50 has 65MOA of adjustment available if you lean toward higher magnification.  All of the PST scopes also allow you to set zero stop by means of stacking a series of washers to limit knob movement.  It is not perfect, but it works well enough.Razor 1-4x24 (along with the 5-20x50 model that debuted last year) is also available now.  This scope is superb in every way possible.  It only comes with 1/4 MOA knobs and two reticle choices, one designed for generic use and another calibrated for 5.56 round.  Both are FFP reticles.  I prefer the second one since it is a little faster.  The reticle is illuminated with the control knob sitting on the left of the turret box.  This scope has 200MOA of adjustment and excellent glass.  With good glass quality even 4x is suitable for shooting fairly far out.  It is about 4 ounces heavier than 1-4x24 Viper PST and is a little longer.  I expect Razor 1-4x24 to retail for around $1200, but time will tell what the street prices are.  Honestly, I think Razor is a better scope especially for precision shooting.  However, it is also a lot more expensive and I suspect Vortex will sell a lot more Viper PSTs.  However, the two Razor scopes are squarely aimed at the market segment dominated by Nightforce, and I like them quite a bit more than I do Nightforce. There is a new red dot sight called Sparc (I think it is an acronym of some sort, but I did not bother memorizing it). Essentially, it is the old Strikefire that went on a serious diet, lost green illumination and added a bit more brightness to red illumination in the process.  It is going to be a bit more expensive than Strikefire with retail price of ~$200. Unfortunately it has retained Strikefire's worst feature: itty-bitty control buttons.  Their feel is a bit better than on early Strikefires, but the whole design leaves me cold (to put it mildly).  Red illumination became a little brighter and I welcome smaller form factor, but those buttons useless if you are in a rush.  That having been said, I have owned a Strikefire for about a year now and it has held up without any problems.  Whether I like the controls or not, there is something to be said about durability.  For those who like to use red dots with magnifiers, Vortex offers a 3x VMX3.  It is a same type of
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lucytuma Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/26/2010 at 19:00
Thanks for being the eyes and ears for all of us ILya, we do appreciate it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rancid Coolaid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/26/2010 at 19:12
Nice write up.

One clarification:
You said of the Vortex, "Razor 1-4x24 (along with the 5-20x50 model that debuted last year) is also available now.": is that accurate?  I am interested more in the 1-4 than the 5-20.

Just checking.

Thanx,


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote koshkin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/26/2010 at 19:18
Originally posted by Rancid Coolaid Rancid Coolaid wrote:

Nice write up.

One clarification:
You said of the Vortex, "Razor 1-4x24 (along with the 5-20x50 model that debuted last year) is also available now.": is that accurate?  I am interested more in the 1-4 than the 5-20.

Just checking.

Thanx,



I do not know if it is available for purchase at this exact moment, but it was there in the booth, and they were not prototypes.  Those looked like full blown production pieces.

I'll forward a link to this thread to Vortex and let them chime in if they see fit.

ILya
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jettubby Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/26/2010 at 19:58
Koshkin,
I was there as well checking out some of the glass. Nice writeup by the way. You took notes! Do you recall what the msrp was for the Bushnell Elite 4200 3x12 & 6x24 and approximate availability?
 
I agree with you on the Vortex PST probably being a better option than the Elite 4200 6x24. It has a nice retile and a sub-$1K price. And if you're "special" you can get a 20% discount. Wink  That is unless of course Chris ends up selling it cheaper???
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote koshkin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/26/2010 at 20:08
Originally posted by Jettubby Jettubby wrote:

Koshkin,
I was there as well checking out some of the glass. Nice writeup by the way. You took notes! Do you recall what the msrp was for the Bushnell Elite 4200 3x12 & 6x24 and approximate availability?
 
I agree with you on the Vortex PST probably being a better option than the Elite 4200 6x24. It has a nice retile and a sub-$1K price. And if you're "special" you can get a 20% discount. Wink  That is unless of course Chris ends up selling it cheaper???

I am not sure what the Elite 4200 availability will be, but late spring is likely.  Price range should be in the $700-$800 range, I think.

Typically, for the same model scopes, I see a $100-$150 premium for FFP reticle compared to SFP.  With the Elite 4200 6-24x50 SFP going for about $600-$700, you can do the math.

ILya
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote budperm Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/26/2010 at 20:08
Thanks ILya!  Top notch work as always!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote YakAk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/26/2010 at 20:31
Thanks ILya for your review.  Every time I think I know what scope to buy for next fall, I read another review that makes me think. O well, I got plenty of time to think about it.

Cheers! and enjoy your single malt, sound yummy.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SVT_Tactical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/26/2010 at 21:04
great reviews, thanks
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ccoker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/26/2010 at 22:06
nice
thanks!

Ilya was a super nice guy and didn't get us kicked out of the Vortex booth :)

I also learned a few things, like with a 1x scope and how it effectively puts your eye at the front of the scope and why a 1x scope will appear to magnify things ever so slightly in close, like 5 ft away but at 10 yards and beyond it looks like zero magnification due to the relative distance ratios


Edited by ccoker - January/26/2010 at 22:17
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mike650 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/26/2010 at 22:08
ILya, as always, thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Excellent
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bricat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/26/2010 at 22:13
Thanks Ilya, as always - good review!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Smokey53119 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/26/2010 at 22:35
Wow.  Fantastic writeup. 
 
My favorite quote "The high magnification version is totally massive and has an elevation knob the size of a vodka bottle."
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ernie Bishop Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/26/2010 at 22:51
Excellent!
And I thought I was busy at SHOT.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote akula88 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/26/2010 at 23:06
Thank you for the updates from SHOT SHOW.  It gives us nice insights as well as decision clues.

I'm in the market for 1-4 for a 3-gun set-up, so I'm really looking close at the Vortex PST and the GenII Meostar K-Dot.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote koshkin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/26/2010 at 23:09
Originally posted by akula88 akula88 wrote:

Thank you for the updates from SHOT SHOW.  It gives us nice insights as well as decision clues.

I'm in the market for 1-4 for a 3-gun set-up, so I'm really looking close at the Vortex PST and the GenII Meostar K-Dot.


Both are nice scopes.  I have not seen them side by side, unfortunately.  

ILya
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Oldtrader3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/26/2010 at 23:42
Thank you Ilya, for your time and insight.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 8shots Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/27/2010 at 02:26
Thanks for an excellent write-up. Certainly keeps one updated with the latest from the optics world.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote budperm Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/27/2010 at 06:06
Originally posted by Smokey53119 Smokey53119 wrote:

Wow.  Fantastic writeup. 
 
My favorite quote "The high magnification version is totally massive and has an elevation knob the size of a vodka bottle."
 
 
 
ILya is very good at drawing comparisons and descriptions to item we relate to everyday!Boozer
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kickboxer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January/27/2010 at 06:39
FINALLY, I thought this would NEVER get here...
 
Great reviews, ILya.  The pictures were good as well.  You certainly hit a lot of places and got a lot of good information. 
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