This year at the SHOT show I made a point to stop by the Kelbly's booth to check out the March scopes that I have been hearing about so much. I spoke with Jim Kelbly about Tactical Precision competition and how in the 8 competitions I have shot I have seen every high end scope except a March. He stopped me mid sentence and said "Well I'll send you one to use for a while, kick some ass, and show my scope off". Sounded good to me, and I knew I could do just that (well, maybe at least show the scope off).
Three weeks later the March-F 3-24 with the new FML-1 reticle arrived! First thing that struck me was how little it was. I did see the scopes at Kelbly's booth, but they were all side by side and no other brands were around. When I put it next to my SS 5-20 I was shocked at it being 2/3 the size. The weight was the same as the size.....small. On my wife's high tech $10 food scale it came in a 1 pound, 5.75 ounces, WOW. Now I started to worry what I was going to be giving up with such a small package, and such a huge range of magnification.
Other than the size and weight, next what grabbed my attention was the turrets. They are a very low profile tactical turret. They stick up about half as far as my SS, and about 1/3 as high as a Vortex Razor. They are just high enough to be easy to see and turn, but low enough to slide into my Eberlestock easily or not get hit when poking the rifle through a barricade. The tops of them have nice big extrusions to grab on to and twist.
The clicks themselves are very distinct in position, feel, and sound. Very nice. Both elevation and windage have 10 Mil per revolution. When mounted with my DTA 30 MOA rings I had 21 mil remaining (that gets me to around 2000 yards without holdover with my 338 barrel strapped in). The windage knob is marked by direction with both the number and letter of direction. Example: 2R is 2 Mil right. Some see this as overly bone headed, but I know for a fact that I have jacked up wind calls not by how much, but by just being stupid enough to turn the dial the wrong way.
Last but not least is the zero stop. Apparently March subscribes to the KISS theory (keep it simple, stupid), because this thing is simple. Simply set the elevation turret to anywhere you want (0, or maybe +.5, doesn't matter), then get a nickel and turn the coin slot on the elevation turret clockwise till it stops. If you prefer to run with out the zero stop, simply turn the coin slot 1/4 counter clockwise and forget about it.
With the scope came a 3" sunshade, a set of plastic lens covers, a set of very slick leather lens covers, paper work, and an allen wrench for zeroing the turrets.
Looking through the glass:
Before I get started here, I need to say that I am not a professional photographer. I don't know any technical terms concerning glass. The other day someone mentioned "chromatic aberration" and I thought it was some kind of rash you got from spending to much time with lot lizards. Also, people tend to worry a lot about this area and I don't. All I care about is if the target is clearly visible. Also I will mention certain name brands that I have looked through in comparison. This is not to get anyones panties in a bunch.
Like I said, I was a little concerned about what I was going to be getting when I looked through the thing because of the wide range of magnification, and relatively small objective size. Those concerns were totally unfounded. This thing is clear and bright! I have looked through S&B, Premier, USO, and Ziess. This little scope gives nothing up to any of those. My father and I were just astonished that we could look at a tree at 400 yards and see individual leaves. However, the most impressive thing that I saw was while we were doing some extreme short range work at a little practice match team Sin City Precision put on. We were setting up to shoot at .1" dots at 8 yards. I dropped down on my rifle and started laughing when I could focus in at 8 yards on 24 power! Everyone on the line had to come over and look. Most were seeing double on their lowest magnification, and all of these guys were using the top tier brands. One of the guys who's safe holds Premier, S&B, and a couple of Nightforce said "I think I might have to sell my Schmidt for one of these".
The eye box on the March is very good between 3-20 power. You can hop down behind it and get a good sight picture easily even while doing positional shooting or shooting support side. After 20 power the eye box does get a little picky. For prone supported shooting, or bench rest paper punching there is absolutely no issue, but I for one would not attempt off hand, barricade or obstacle shooting past 20 power (with these things I am usually at 12 power anyway). Comparing this directly to a S&B 5-25 that I spent some time behind I found the same narrow eye box at higher magnification. However, I get no sense of tunnel vision on low mag that I did with the Schmidt.
The reticle in this scope is the FML-1. Its a mil reticle with a floating dot. The floating dot has half a mil on either side until the reticle starts up. It has numbers a 2,4,6 and so on to keep track. The horizontal has 4 mil on either side and the vertical has 15 mil going down. At 24 power you can see a little over 6 mil on the vertical, and you can see all 15 mil at 11 power. I think that the floating dot is an excellent solution for a FFP reticle. On 24 magnification the dot is on the target and the rest is out of the way versus some of the other FFP reticles who's cross hairs are so large at max magnification that they cover up the target.
Often times when you have a product that attempts to cover several different fields you get the old "jack of all trades and master of none". I think that the March-F manages to cover all the fields as well as any of the top tier brands who's scopes are more focused in on specifics. It does all of this at just 12" long and only 22 ounces! Further the fit and finish of the thing is just flawless.
To show this diamond off. I hit almost every monthly Vegas, and Phoenix match. Also I will be an RO at this weekends Phoenix TPRC and hope to hit NorCal's TBRC (Vu you hearing this). Also I have been looking hard at hitting Utah, and SoCal. Please come out and put a couple 6.5 pills through my DTA and look through this March! After, when you have to have one tell Jim or Ian that Ty sent you.
Low Power 3x
High Power 24x
Effective Lens Diameter 42mm
Body Tube Diameter 30mm
Exit Pupil at High power 1.75mm
Field of View (real) degree Low 6.67
Eye Relief Low 85-100mm
1 Click Adjustment 0.1Mil
Elevation Travel 28Mil
Windage Travel 28Mil
Focus Side focus
Reticle type FFP
Reticle FML, FML-1
Length mm (inch) 409mm (16.1inch)
Price illuminated $2850
My pumpkin head behind the March.
This is at 8 yards on 24 magnification. Those dots under the reticle are .1".
Here is a terrible picture of the March-F next to my SS 5-20