If I told you that you could have the benefits of a 4-20 and a 5-25 scope all in one scope would you be interested? Of course, companies like Hensoldt, Schmidt and March have been trying to solve this issue with various designs, but all seem to have had their shortcomings. The Hensoldt 3.5-26x56 is a beast at almost 3lbs and its reticle offerings are lacking compared to the competition. The Schmidt 3-27x56 also has some heft at 40 ounces and is fairly long at 15.5”. Both these scopes represent the upper echelon of Alpha class optics with regard to price as they are some of the most expensive scopes on the market today. Years ago, March used their popularity with F-Class and 10x erector designs to inspire a new offering for FFP shooters creating the FFP 3-24x42 which ultimately expanded into the 3-24x52 design. Unlike the Schmidt and Hensoldt the March came in at just under 25 ounces and just over 13 inches, it was both shorter and lighter than the competition, in fact, it is shorter and lighter than almost any FFP optic on the market while offering a class leading 8x erector for scopes of this size. But one of the drawbacks of a short body design with such a high erector is that eyebox and DOF tend to become less forgiving (vs. longer body designs) and the parallax control requires more fine tuning to get focus/parallax just right.
With the rapid rise of PRS and NRL style sports in the USA, many scope manufacturers have been looking for the magic recipe that will gain acceptance of their newly released model within the marketplace. You have the typical manufacturers whose offerings usually turn to gold regardless of how good (or bad) their model might be; you have the upper echelon manufacturers within the “alpha class” and then you have some of the up-and-coming manufacturers who are trying to gain entry into this class, many who OEM out to LOW with very similar designs to other brands. March is arguably the best Japanese riflescope manufacturer today with glass that gives the European alpha class market a run for their money, but with their desire to always push the limits of optical design and limited promotional opportunities in the USA, they have made some headway into the market but not quite the impact that others have. As previously mentioned, March has made quite a bit of headway in the British, Australian and F-Class market here in the US, but the requirements for F-Class and benchrest type sports do not often translate to ideal designs for dynamic sports like PRS and NRL competitions. For one, trying to find a SFP scope in any of the PRS/NRL championship matches is akin to finding the proverbial “needle in a haystack”, you just can’t find them as most of the serious shooters quickly realize the benefits of utilizing the magnification range, dialing down when mirage gets nasty but still having a reticle that works just as well throughout the magnification range and having a reticle that allows you to hold wind and in some circumstances hold elevation but also have turrets that are distinct and accurate enough to spin your solution quickly. One of the most popular scopes since the inception of dynamic shooting sports has been the 5-25x56 design introduced by Schmidt & Bender, which many have copied but few have equaled and far fewer surpassed. One of the reasons for the popularity outside of the alpha class glass with extraordinary resolution and edge to edge clarity is the Depth Of Field (DOF) and forgiving parallax and eyebox. The scope is what I call a “traditional” design which means it has a very long tube and this design lends to forgiving DOF and parallax. Having forgiving eyebox also lends to be able to take shots when you’re not able to get your eye in perfect alignment behind the scope which is something PRS course designers tend to prefer by making rifle/scope position awkward during certain stages.
Frank Galli of Snipers Hide put together a favorable video review ( of the 3-24x52 soon after it first came to market when Kelbly’s was the only distributor in the US. Distributorship soon went to bullets.com but Shiraz (a renowned F-Class competitor) decided to get out of the shooting sports supply business back in 2019 and March had some decisions to make with what to do with the US market. They had just announced a new scope design in the 5-42x56 High Master at SHOT Show 2019, but the announcement came with a lot of scrutiny towards the reticle design that still did not seem to quite make the mark with the FFP crowd. March has always opted for short designs with their FFP scopes but short designs have their challenges to overcome, especially when using high magnification erectors that seem to affect eyebox, DOF and parallax and for this reason (IMO) March has struggled to gain much recognition within PRS/NRL style competitions. Not willing to allow the competition to get the upper hand, March decided to create a brand new scope in the 4.5-28x52 High Master and while it is still an ultra short design, they have opted for a 6.2x erector to help tame the aforementioned challenges inherent to these design parameters. For reticles, March is using the very competent design from Snipers Hide’s own Ilya Koshkin who was responsible for the FML-TR1 reticle first introduced in the 5-42x56 HM, and certain F-class and PRS shooters provided the feedback necessary for the FML-PDK reticle. The illuminated TR1 design is, IMO, one of the best crossover style reticles for long range and hunting while the non-illuminated PDK offers a very thin (non-illuminated) competition oriented reticle. Put together, all these features help make the 4.5-28x52 HM a very compelling scope that should pique the interest of numerous PRS/NRL shooters as well as hunters and long range enthusiasts interested in alpha class optics.
March 4.5-28x52 High Master (HM) and Tangent Theta 5-25x56
If March represents innovation, then Tangent Theta (TT) represents the best you can get in optical/mechanical performance today, true – scopes like the Minox ZP5 and ZCO may come close in optical quality, but there is really no argument to be made with regard to turrets – Tangent is the best (though I would say that the March 5-42 locking turrets and the Schmidt DT II+ come close in quality and feel). After running with my ZCO 4-20x50 for about a year I decided to try out the Tangent Theta, even though I already had a stellar copy of the ZP5, which I could not find any difference optically when compared side by side with the TT. Because I have an AI the toolless zero was a handy feature when I switch barrels, but I am only running two calibers right now and they both zero with less than .5 mrad difference. While I perform these reviews for the benefit of the community, I do have another motive and that is - to benefit me. Yes, it is selfish but let us be honest, I spend my own money on these scopes and can’t be buying a bunch of scopes I don’t plan on using. So, the question is, can the March dethrone the Tangent and earn it’s position on my AI? I should also clarify, I do not expect the March to “outperform” the Tangent Theta; however, I do expect it to perform at a level that where it should fall short will not cause too much angst – meaning it better be pretty darn good.
In the images above you can quickly see that the Tangent Theta dwarfs the March 4.5-28 by a considerable margin, this is where that Japanese innovation comes into play, in fact, the March is .2 inches shorter than the ZCO 4-20 which is the champion from the ultra short battle I did back in 2019 –
Keep in mind this evaluation is based on my own personal observations based on what my eyes “see” when looking through the scope. I pay meticulous attention when setting up my diopters for each scope making sure to fine tune them to my eye. My eyes are very sensitive to CA while some people cannot or have difficulty seeing CA when looking through the same scope. Everyone’s eyes are different, and my observations will undoubtedly be different from others. That being said, I try to be as objective as possible but, like all of us, do have my bias’ though I try my best to keep my reviews as unbiased as I can. It should also be noted that I am not paid by anyone to do these reviews, this started years ago on Snipers Hide when I was trying to choose a light weight tactical scope that performed well in low light situations, recommendations covered high and low and ultimately I decided the only way to know for sure was to get all the scopes that fell within my criteria and see for myself (personal observation), sure I lost some money in it, but had decided that was worth the cost vs. getting a scope that ultimately would not satisfy my requirements.
The below specs are provided by the manufacturers which provides a good baseline for what these scopes offer. March is highlighted in yellow as it is new for 2021. Highlighted in red is a potential drawback and in green is a potential benefit.
As mentioned previously, one of the most notable differences comes in size, the Tangent represents the traditional “long” scope design while the March represents the newer trend of “short” scope designs and is over 4 inches shorter than the Tangent. But other areas of note are:
• Weight: The Tangent is over 10oz heavier
• Field of view (FOV): March uses a 25° wide angle eyepiece offering greater FOV throughout the magnification range
• Close focus distance: Tangent has a typical 50m while March offers down to 10 yards
I got home yesterday and fished Steiner MPS from the mail. I am going to go live in an hour, right here, with some early impressions of it.
I originally planned to do a live show on the Rittenhouse verdict take-aways, but figured you'd want to get the scoop on the MPS first. It is an interesting new option for compact red dot sights and the last thing I needed for the red dot comparison I have been working on.
Let's talk about optics today and touch on the political stuff tomorrow.
Here is a review of the 15x56 "Big Eyes" binocular from Tract.
I ended up liking it a lot more than I expected given the price.
Here is the third installment of this series, recorded after a rather long break.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Here is the rough parts list:
VC Defense billet lower
BCM upper https://bit.ly/3wcHIQX
Proof Research 16" CF barrel https://bit.ly/3whEg7I
Odin tunable gas block https://bit.ly/3EJk8hO
Bootleg adjustable BCG https://bit.ly/3BLeQAl
Q HoneyBadger 12" handguard https://bit.ly/2ZRt7hr
ACE UL Stock https://bit.ly/3mIWpbc
Vortex Razor Gen3 1-10x24 https://bit.ly/3BJkR0j
Hiperfire 24 4Gun trigger https://bit.ly/3bCaykj
Zero Bravo offset sights
Crimson Trace CMR-301 light/laser https://bit.ly/2ZPQrfy
ACE UL stock
Riflecraft RS-3 sling
Here is how I chose to build a general purpose AR-15. That does not necessarily mean it is ideal for everyone. If you are thinking of doing such a build, this is a good starting point. Take a close look at my reasoning and see what you need to change to make it fit you.
During the last couple of livecasts, multiple people brought up a recent article in the Recoil magazine that discusses the MPVO concept. MPVO stands for Medium Power Variable optic, similarly to how LPVO stands for Low Power Variable Optic.
The article in question is this one: https://www.recoilweb.com/medium-powered-variable-optics-mpvo-the-optic-you-dont-know-you-need-170236.html
It is generally a well written piece that makes a reasonable argument. I agree with some parts of it and disagree with other parts, so there is some nuance there.
Before I get into the specifics, there are a couple of things to point out:
1) It will occasionally sound like I am attacking the author of that article. I am not. However, I also have to call a spade a spade sometimes and if I think he has no clue about something specific, I will say exactly that. I have never heard of the guy until today. I did look up a few of his other articles and he seems like a good writer and a competent gun guy. I did not, however, find anything resembling an understanding ...
There is a very fair chance that your e-mail is filled with hundreds of "once-in-a-lifetime" or "today only" deals. If you are not careful, you can end up with a once in a lifetime credit card bill next month.
I am generally not hugely pre-occupied with deals and I do not wait for a particular season to buy something. If I am looking for something specific, I usually need it and I am unlikely to spend months analyzing what deals are out there.
There are some exceptions to that, most notably with backup optics (see my earlier post on Primary Arms) and tools.
I have a good assortment of tools to use, but I have been keeping an eye out for deals on Fix-It-Stick kits since I like to have a few spread around different bags/backpacks/etc. It turns out that I am pathologically incapable of remembering to move one from bag to bag, so I ended up accumulating a few here and there I am picking another one up this time since they have a healthy Black Friday discount going on: https://bit.ly/3nTqzsL
They seem to have a...
Rather than inundate you with a long list of things we are thankful for this year, I'll just leave you with a couple of points
We should all be grateful for our families. I certainly am. I really am blessed and I wish you all to be as fortunate.
All of us who live in the US, should definitely be grateful for that. It is the greatest country in the world (I know people from other countries may disagree, but everyone has the right to be wrong) and I am truly fortunate to be here.
I made a long drive to California yesterday with my kids, so I had some time to think. As irritated as I am with Big Tech at the moment, I have to say that I truly am grateful for the modern marvels of technology. They did not give me a voice, but they sure extended its reach.
Happy tryptophan day, ya'll!