Tangent Theta 5-25 v Minox 5-25 v Nightforce 7-35 v Schmidt & Bender 5-25 v Vortex 4.5-27

Kkfireup11

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Just got my 525p in yesterday to go on a Tactical Operations XRay that will be here one day in about a year and a half. Glass is beautiful compared to my Schmidt 5-25, Zeiss Diavari and ATACR. Far more light collection and eye box is very forgiving. Thanks for the great write up, it definitely influenced my purchase. Controls are indeed precise and tactile.
 

gconnoyer

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Great writeup.

Glad you dove into the "nitpicking" because to some, that stuff really matters.

Not that money isnt an object in this sport, but at the price level we're at with out gear...if I buy a $2500 scope and am not completely happy with it because of nitpicking I would have much rather spend an extra $1000 to get everything that I wanted and not feel that I wasted any money.
 
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scudzuki

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I have not read through all the responses, so I apologize if this has been brought up already, but the Minox lifetime warranty issued to whomever registers the scope (which may or may not be extended to subsequent owners, that is a question some retailers were probing) is supposed to also cover accidental damage (like the Vortex VIP warranty).

Being as I'm the registered owner of 2 Minox ZP5s this is significant to me, so I thought I'd bring it up.

HK Dave, I've been using the fine diopter tuning strategy you described in the OP for years. When I first came up with it, several Hiders told me it wouldn't work for this and that reason but I've used it when required on many scopes. Seems like I can get the diopter adjustment right on Japanese scopes (I think every one I've owned is a LOW product, maybe it's a design family thing) via the traditional method, but German scopes like the S&B PMII, Steiner M5 (which were the scopes that caused me to come up with this method), and Minox ZP5 have such a large range of diopter adjustment within which my eye can focus immediately on the reticle that fine tuning the diopter using a distant target after the initial setting was required.

I'll add that if I'm shooting a comp, I dial the side focus to bring the target into focus then fire. Only when there's time (and the precision is required, like sighting in a scope/rifle) do I bother to dial out parallax entirely. The parallax error available once the target is in focus on a properly adjusted diopter is minimal, practically a non issue, in my experience, unless I'm trying to shoot little itty bitty groups.
 
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wjm308

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I have not read through all the responses, so I apologize if this has been brought up already, but the Minox lifetime warranty issued to whomever registers the scope (which may or may not be extended to subsequent owners, that is a question some retailers were probing) is supposed to also cover accidental damage (like the Vortex VIP warranty).

Being as I'm the registered owner of 2 Minox ZP5s this is significant to me, so I thought I'd bring it up.

HK Dave, I've been using the fine diopter tuning strategy you described in the OP for years. When I first came up with it, several Hiders told me it wouldn't work for this and that reason but I've used it when required on many scopes. Seems like I can get the diopter adjustment right on Japanese scopes (I think every one I've owned is a LOW product, maybe it's a design family thing) via the traditional method, but German scopes like the S&B PMII, Steiner M5 (which were the scopes that caused me to come up with this method), and Minox ZP5 have such a large range of diopter adjustment within which my eye can focus immediately on the reticle that fine tuning the diopter using a distant target after the initial setting was required.

I'll add that if I'm shooting a comp, I dial the side focus to bring the target into focus then fire. Only when there's time (and the precision is required, like sighting in a scope/rifle) do I bother to dial out parallax entirely. The parallax error available once the target is in focus on a properly adjusted diopter is minimal, practically a non issue, in my experience, unless I'm trying to shoot little itty bitty groups.
My experience mimics yours Joe, except that I have found Japanese scopes need the fine tuning as well. Like you there seems to be such a broad range of "that looks right" when adjusting only to find distant objects seem a bit off, micro fine tuning the diopter has helped in most of these situations. I think too often other shooters using the clear sky/wall method start adjusting until they think the reticle looks good, but in fact the scope could be adjusted "better" for their eyes. The reason we have diopter adjustment is because not all eyes are created equal and we must adjust to our eye. What's interesting is that with binoculars the instructions are to focus on an object and then use the diopter to fine tune, but because of the reticle in a scope, the instructions are different, the preference is toward the reticle - I wonder if there ought not to be better instructions provided by mfr's regarding diopter adjustment.
 

Crang

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Well I am not sure if this thread cost me $3K for a Minox or saved me $1500 not getting a TT. Anyway thanks for such a great writeup. I have a couple of these scopes and agree with everything you said, so tend to think I will agree with the ones I dont have time behind (Minox and TT). Was set on the TT but the reticle kept me back as for that price it better be perfect. The MR4 looks perfect to me. Hadnt even considered the Minox till I saw this, but just got the call from CSTactical about it last night. Really- thanks again for doing this.
 

wjm308

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Well I am not sure if this thread cost me $3K for a Minox or saved me $1500 not getting a TT. Anyway thanks for such a great writeup. I have a couple of these scopes and agree with everything you said, so tend to think I will agree with the ones I dont have time behind (Minox and TT). Was set on the TT but the reticle kept me back as for that price it better be perfect. The MR4 looks perfect to me. Hadnt even considered the Minox till I saw this, but just got the call from CSTactical about it last night. Really- thanks again for doing this.
You will not be disappointed in the Minox ZP5, the MR4 reticle is even better when looking through the scope and the optics are sublime, the turrets allow me to dial a number quickly and accurately. I will be curious to see what new reticle TT has up their sleeve but it's been a while now and still no word, I am very interested in the new ZCO scopes, they have claims that have me thinking they can go toe to toe with TT, but that remains to be seen as there is still no word on their release. Let us know what you think when you get your Minox.
 
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koshkin

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You will not be disappointed in the Minox ZP5, the MR4 reticle is even better when looking through the scope and the optics are sublime, the turrets allow me to dial a number quickly and accurately. I will be curious to see what new reticle TT has up their sleeve but it's been a while now and still no word, I am very interested in the new ZCO scopes, they have claims that have me thinking they can go toe to toe with TT, but that remains to be seen as there is still no word on their release. Let us know what you think when you get your Minox.
I've seen drawings of the new TT reticle and I think it is a thoroughly modern design that will do well.

That having been said, I still really like Gen 2XR and it's comparative simplicity.

A lot of this is personal choice. Some people will go with the new reticle and others will stay with Gen 2XR. I will probably end up using both for different things.

ILya
 

wjm308

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I've seen drawings of the new TT reticle and I think it is a thoroughly modern design that will do well.

That having been said, I still really like Gen 2XR and it's comparative simplicity.

A lot of this is personal choice. Some people will go with the new reticle and others will stay with Gen 2XR. I will probably end up using both for different things.

ILya
My guess is once the Gen III XR of whatever they'll call this new "modern" design is out, we might see some existing Gen II XR's fall into the PX at some decent prices, those who don't "need" the latest and greatest often reap the rewards of getting some really good deals on "older" designs, I put older in quotes because it seems we get new designs about every 3-5 years now. I wish my S&B Ultra Short had the Gen II XR reticle, I really liked that reticle in my Premier LT's but admit it could have been a bit thicker in that setup, sounds like it is "just right" in the 5-25 setup.
 

Ericsl2

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I'm really wondering why the price on minox jumped so high. I bought mine from optics planet December of last year for 2461$ shipped with a 7% discount code. Seems they're selling for 3000 now. As for the warranty, apparently it is now transferable to a second owner, but not a third.
 

wjm308

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I'm really wondering why the price on minox jumped so high. I bought mine from optics planet December of last year for 2461$ shipped with a 7% discount code. Seems they're selling for 3000 now. As for the warranty, apparently it is now transferable to a second owner, but not a third.
A lot depends on who and when. Was the Minox you bought the MR4 version? I ask because I've seen better deals on their other reticles. Optics Planet is always hit and miss with the deals, but call up one of the Hide dealers and they'll take care of you.
 

Covertnoob5

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I'm really wondering why the price on minox jumped so high. I bought mine from optics planet December of last year for 2461$ shipped with a 7% discount code. Seems they're selling for 3000 now. As for the warranty, apparently it is now transferable to a second owner, but not a third.
Someone had mentioned that Minox got a military contract of some sort. Not sure if it’s true or not, but that might have something to do with it.
 

Ericsl2

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I got the mr4 reticle. First one I bought used on here about a year and a half ago for 2550. Came in the black box. The new one I got in December came in a white box. I heard about the mil contract from Blasier Usa. They said it was the cause of the slowdown in shipments to the USA but not sure why the price would drive up other than demand maybe.
 

strk3

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Great conclusion-sad to leave out the SIG tango- 6, i am not a pro but i do shoot at 1000yds r so on a regular basis and also i have NOT spent alot of time behind the other glasses but SOME time/ do yourself a favor - include the tango 6-5x30x56 i bet with my set up i can shoot the end of a bottle at 1000yds-no problem!!-having fun behind the barrel
 

scudzuki

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I bought both of my ZP5s from CS Tactical.
I got a better discount on the first (MR2 reticle) than the 2nd (MR4 reticle) but the savings on the 2nd was still pretty substantial.
Give a Hide vendor a call before you buy online.
CS Tactical and CameraLand are 2 of my go to vendors.
 

Crang

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You will not be disappointed in the Minox ZP5, the MR4 reticle is even better when looking through the scope and the optics are sublime, the turrets allow me to dial a number quickly and accurately. I will be curious to see what new reticle TT has up their sleeve but it's been a while now and still no word, I am very interested in the new ZCO scopes, they have claims that have me thinking they can go toe to toe with TT, but that remains to be seen as there is still no word on their release. Let us know what you think when you get your Minox.
Yeah if TT comes out with a christmas tree center dot type reticle I imagine my Vortex Razor will go up for sale quickly. I love the Razor but like my rifles on the lighter side and its a heavy pig. The TT is still heavy but a half pound lighter. Minox is a full pound lighter so I can go to a heavier barrel and not change the weight. First world problems-
 
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koshkin

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My guess is once the Gen III XR of whatever they'll call this new "modern" design is out, we might see some existing Gen II XR's fall into the PX at some decent prices, those who don't "need" the latest and greatest often reap the rewards of getting some really good deals on "older" designs, I put older in quotes because it seems we get new designs about every 3-5 years now. I wish my S&B Ultra Short had the Gen II XR reticle, I really liked that reticle in my Premier LT's but admit it could have been a bit thicker in that setup, sounds like it is "just right" in the 5-25 setup.
I have Gen II XR in TT315M and it is a little thin on low mag. It basically looks like a thin duplex and my only real complaint with that reticle is that I wish the thick bars were a little thicker. In low light, I just flip the illumination on and it works fine.

I think having a few more of the used TTs in the classifieds will be great for people who have been eyeing them, but couldn't bring themselves to spend the money. How many will actually sell their older TTs is hard to say, of course. I sure as hell will not be selling mine.

ILya
 

Crang

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Would someone with the 5-25x56 Minox mind measuring the OD of the objective lens for me? Want to get the lowest Spuhr I can on order for it while I wait. There arent as many specs online for this scope it seems.
 

Ericsl2

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I was running sphur 34mm rings ( not a mount) on a 20moa base and medium Palma barrel. I had to sand down the bottom of the tenebrex cap for barrel clearance but it fit nicely
 
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Ericsl2

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I was shooting a 6x47 Lapua at 3050fps. I never went in to the second Rev with a 200 yard zero. I was dialing 6.5mils for 1000 yards. I guess it depends how far you're shooting and what round you're shooting. Try plugging in your data in to a ballistic app and see what you need if the above isn't helpful
 

LA260

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I have 21- 21.5mil avail on my Minox with 20moa rail and 130-140gr projectiles in the 2800-2900fps range. 1.49" BO mount. 6.5x47. Hope this helps
 
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Danrobberg

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I haven’t shot with my Minox Zp5 with mr4 reticle but it is mounted and I have been doing a lot of dryfiring with it. So far I couldn’t be happier. The turrets are very crisp and the stiffness going to the second rev wasn’t nearly as bad as I had thought. That starts at 13.5 mils which for me is about 1350 yards. I’ve only ever shot that far 1 time so I’m not that concerned about it anyway. The reticle is the best I’ve seen so far. It has everything you need and more importantly nothing you don’t. The glass is so good even my wife could tell the difference right away as soon as she looked through it. The parallax is smooth and seems to only need small adjustments, will confirm that when I actually get to the range to shoot it. I haven’t heard of anyone having any issues with tracking so for me this is the perfect scope for my rifle.
I got mine from cstactical and could not have asked for a better experience dealing with them.
 

LA260

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I haven’t shot with my Minox Zp5 with mr4 reticle but it is mounted and I have been doing a lot of dryfiring with it. So far I couldn’t be happier. The turrets are very crisp and the stiffness going to the second rev wasn’t nearly as bad as I had thought. That starts at 13.5 mils which for me is about 1350 yards. I’ve only ever shot that far 1 time so I’m not that concerned about it anyway. The reticle is the best I’ve seen so far. It has everything you need and more importantly nothing you don’t. The glass is so good even my wife could tell the difference right away as soon as she looked through it. The parallax is smooth and seems to only need small adjustments, will confirm that when I actually get to the range to shoot it. I haven’t heard of anyone having any issues with tracking so for me this is the perfect scope for my rifle.
I got mine from cstactical and could not have asked for a better experience dealing with them.
How does the windage turret feel compared to the elevation turret?
 

Danrobberg

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How does the windage turret feel compared to the elevation turret?
It is stiffer which I like because I don’t want it to accidentally get turned. The clicks arnt as crisp either but still not bad. I never dial for wind so I wasn’t to concerned with that turret.
 
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cuz

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Great info here, thanks a lot. I am just starting to research a scope to let my wife buy me for Christmas. Going to put it on a Ruger PR that I will get myself for Xmas. Gotta read they this again slower and take some notes.
 

Lo Zio

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This is exactly what i mean for a professional review! I'm looking for a new optic and this kind of review are very appreciated. congrats.
 

Jayjay1

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Thanks for this great write-up!

I´m happy I´ve found it.

The only aspect I´m missing to it is ruggedness.
But maybe that´s hard to know, until you broke all of them....
:geek:
 

Dburns

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Add a Kahles to that lineup and there's my scope bucketlist. I agree that Minox seems to have the best reticle selection right now, MR2 is my absolute favorite among the tree-style reticles and MR5 seems like an improvement over the MSR. I went with a S&B for my first high end, but definitely going with a Minox next.
I agree Dave, the Kahles I had also showed considerable CA; however, it was a Gen III version so not sure about how much better it was than the Gen II. CA aside, the scope had incredible resolution and great contrast. I know I've harped on CA (chromatic aberration for those just joining, which shows color fringing between high contrast, dark/light, situations) and expect top tier scopes to control this aberration better, but the reality is that CA will not hinder in any way your ability to hit a target, and to be honest most shooters don't even notice it.
Very True!!!!
 

Jayjay1

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Would someone throw in the new Steiner M7Xi 4-28x56, which I´m very curious of?

It has a greater mag-range, is slightly shorter and somewhat lighter than the competitors.
The vov is also pretty good.
Does it have any downsides?
 

Bandit31

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Would someone throw in the new Steiner M7Xi 4-28x56, which I´m very curious of?

It has a greater mag-range, is slightly shorter and somewhat lighter than the competitors.
The vov is also pretty good.
Does it have any downsides?
To early to tell as the only ones that have them are those in Europe and there's only been a few reviews. But so far they seem to be positive.

As far as ruggedness, all those other scopes in the review have a proven track record of being durable. Some more than others but regardless I wouldn't sweat about it.
 
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Jayjay1

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Thanks Bandit31,
good to hear that there is none of them falling out or known for some issues in that term.

But by spending such an amount of money, nitpicking like Dave said is allowed, if not indispensable, in my opinion.

I´m in the market for a top tier scope, but as a hard working family father I really will have only one.
So I fear to spend (for me) such a lot money and realizing after some time that I bought the wrong scope.
Unfortunately there are not many of those scopes around here, just two S&Bs, of which I know, so that I can´t compare them on my own - and - don´t have really the experience to.

The new Steiner M7 covers a lot of my wishes, but like Kahles Steiner isn´t listed inhere.
Lately there was some writing about the Kahles now, so I can sort it in to the list and see how it competes.

If someone is having experience with Steiner in general (M5 or so), he could make me very happy to give a summarize about the highs and lows of the Steiners connected to this thread.

I would be highly honoured to hand this man a beer or two.
"beer-replacement-written-smiley"


(Wth, we do have a coffee-smiley but no beer-smiley here...?)
 

canezach

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What do you want to know about the Steiner M5Xi? It was my primary scope for several years.

The glass is very good. It's not on the same level as my Minox or my S&B, but both of those are in that "hallowed ground" level of optical quality. I'd say my Steiner was in that second tier of glass, where if the Minox, S&B, Tangent Theta, etc all scored 100, glass like the Steiner, Gen 2 Razor, NF etc would be in the 97 to 99 range. You really start nitpicking some details, but I'd say my M5 was just a step behind in contrast and the image wasn't as bright as my Minox.

Turrets and tracking on the M5 were excellent! Steiner M5 still has the coolest second rev indicator of all time, in my opinion. Yes, Steiner took one on the chin with the T5Xi (and I was one of the first to buy one because I loved my M5) and the horrible tracking it displayed, but in all the years i've been shooting LR precision, i've NEVER heard anyone complain about the M5's tracking, and we're talking about a scope that was released over ten years ago and remains unchanged. To this day, the M5's durability and tracking reputation is solid.

Reticles are the only reason I went away from the Steiner. I had the MSR in mine, which was a fantastic reticle. You can get a basic mil-dot or Horus (H59 if I remember correctly) as well, but I preferred the MSR. The only downside to the MSR was the thick center crosshair started obscuring the target once you get above the 15x range. If Steiner offered a reticle similar to the MR4, I would still be running a Steiner and that's probably the highest praise I can give them.
 

Jayjay1

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If Steiner offered a reticle similar to the MR4, I would still be running a Steiner and that's probably the highest praise I can give them.
Hi canezach,
thank you for your response, I highly appreciate that.

The M7Xi has the new MSR 2 - reticle as one option, where the crosshair now has a thickness of 0,05mrad.
 

canezach

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Hi canezach,
thank you for your response, I highly appreciate that.

The M7Xi has the new MSR 2 - reticle as one option, where the crosshair now has a thickness of 0,05mrad.
It does, and I've looked at it. It's a nice upgrade from the original MSR reticle, especially with the floating center dot, but I still prefer the Minox's MR4.
 

RoninISC

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Just got my k624i (unsure whether gen 2 or 3, but def not 1) and confirming CA is an issue at max res. It's going back. Maybe some are more tolerant of it than I, but thats not what I'm having for 3k usd.
I'm not a nit-picky scope snob-- it is quite noticeable and distracting.
 
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AlBundy81

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That’s a very in depth review I have a Vortex Razor and love it. Only wish the reticle had .2 mil marks. I’ve also used a khales 624i and Nightforce ATacr. All great scopes It’d be hard to pick if I had my choice of any. Great write up👍
 

daves37120

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Fantastic write up! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your review. Out of the 4 scopes mentioned, I have both the Vortex and Nightforce. Every time I look through the 7-35 all I can say is wow. Made the mistake of getting the Tremors, but working on getting one with a different reticle (either MOAR or MILR).

Once again, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Have not considered Minox and will have to give them a shot
 

JJP

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Tangent Theta TT525P 5-25x56mm vs Minox ZP5 TAC 5-25x56mm vs Nightforce ATACR 7-35x56mm F1 vs Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27x56mm vs Schmidt Bender PMII 5-26x56mm L/P DT

This review and comparison has been a long time coming. It’s essentially the comparison I’ve always wished someone did in an unbiased way. As I spent time behind these scopes and shooting various cartridges like 223, 308, 6.5cm and 338 lapua, using ballistic calculators, range finders, chronographs, wind meters; I marvel at where shooting technology is today.

I don’t know if this time can be considered the golden age of shooting technology, but it certainly feels like it to me.

We live in a world where someone can pick up a $1K bolt action rifle, a $1K scope, spend a little money on a ballistic calculator and a range finder and with a little instruction and affordable amazing factory ammo, be hitting something 1K yards away with relative ease.

It’s bringing many new shooters into long range shooting and it’s exciting to see the advancement of our hobby/profession.

Now here is a comparison of 5 of the most sought after scopes today.

Please keep in mind that when comparing these scopes, a lot of what I’ve written and observed is what many would consider serious knit picking. I’ll start with saying that simply put, every single one of these scopes is phenomenal and absolutely deserves to be considered a top tier scope.

In many cases, the only way you would notice much of what I’ve written is to literally have them side by side, and in some cases you have to really pay attention to notice a difference.

I don’t know that any of these scopes could ever cause you to feel handicapped and i’d honestly be happy running any of them.

In terms of sample size, I’ve owned a half dozen S&B PMIIs, half a dozen NF F1s, a couple of Minox ZP5s, one TT and a few Vortex Razors so take that for what it’s worth.

Here is a photos of the scopes side by side so you can get an idea of size difference. From top to bottom you have the Vortex Razor, Minox ZP5, S&B PMII, Tangent Theta and finally the Nightforce.



Diopter Adjustment

I feel like it is important to note that with First Focal Plane reticle scopes, your diopter setting can be crucial. It can make the final difference in image quality and whether your optimum point of optical sharpness coincides with it also being parallax free.

There are quite a few posts and “tutorials” on how to do this correctly, from pointing the scope at a clear blue sky to using the illumination in a dark environment.

The only issue I’ve had with these methods is that despite being middle aged, my eyes still focus very quickly and it’s difficult for me to NOT get a sharp reticle.

I reached out to a snipershide member about a problem I was having with my TT, and he explained how he set his up.

So following his lead, I essentially set up a target and used the parallax knob to get the sharpest image possible. I then adjust the diopter to get the sharpest reticle possible then check for parallax. I did this back and forth until I got a parallax free image with the sharpest image possible and sharp reticle. Then tested parallax at different distances to be certain.

I’ve found great success with this method and gave me some relief as I was starting to get concerned that I had a bad TT.

All 5 scopes have euro style fast diopter adjustments. What this means is, it only takes a few turns to adjust the diopter, as opposed to 30+ turns.

I prefer the euro style adjustments considerably more as I have a difficult time even get a reticle to turn blurry on the slower/finer adjustment type diopters.

The TT, Minox and NF have locking diopters, which I think is nice to have so they definitely have an advantage over the others. The S&B and Vortex lack this option however I simply use a sharpie to make a witness mark on the scope so if I ever turn the diopter by mistake, It’s easy to get back to the exact point I want it to be.

Turrets

In terms of adjustment amount, I personally prefer less adjustment per revolution. Less than a decade ago, manufacturers started moving towards more and more adjustment per rev, and I’m not a big fan of this. Maybe it’s the way my brain works, and I’m not as quick or intelligent as the next guy, but I like things in units of 10.

The ability to lock the turrets is a nice feature but not necessary. I used to not care about zero stop, but I’ve gotten spoiled and zero stop is a must. All of these scopes have zero stop. Some kind of indicator of what revolution I’m on is nice as well.

For me, an adjustment turret has to be tactile. I want to know exactly what adjustment I’m on without having to guess. I hope for as little play as possible on the turret once it is set. Every turret on these scopes stands out as being excellent. I have no complaints about how any of them “feel”. But since we’re here to nitpick, let me go into more detail.

Tangent Theta: Without a doubt, this scope has the best turrets I’ve ever played with. There is nothing quite like the “feel” of these turrets. I honestly thought all I read about these turrets was nonsense and that the large price of admission for this scope was influencing peoples’ opinions, but I was wrong. It is difficult to explain. It’s akin to a perfect instrument having been created by a master craftsman. It’s different from other turrets and has a more mechanical feel? As I said, difficult for me to explain.

It isn’t about just how firm the clicks are. In truth, my old Optronika Premier 5-25 had really heavy clicks, and the Minox I currently own has the sharpest clicks of the bunch, but it isn’t just about the heaviness of the detents when it comes to the TT.

Despite being 15 mils per turn, there is never any doubt where you are. There is no play at all once you’ve dialed in your adjustment.

It also has a somewhat unique zeroing feature. You turn the top center of the turret and you can easily set your zero, then just lock it back down. It’s very easy to do but there never any concern that you’ll somehow unlock it on accident. While a really nice feature, I don’t see myself using for the specific purpose of a switch barrel rifle. I can see myself screwing it up. To me, it’s just a nice way to zero without the need for a tool, not a way to have multiple zeros.

The turret has a small indicator that pops out when you go into the second revolution.

I have absolutely nothing negative to say about this turret. I’d prefer it over any other turret in existence today even at 15 mils per rev.

The windage turret works the same as the elevation turret.



Minox: There have been some complaints about earlier generations of these turrets feeling “mushy”. Indeed my first ZP5 did indeed have “mushy” turrets. I sent in the scope to have my reticle changed, and they just sent me a new scope as the old one couldn’t clear customs. Nice customer service.

The difference in turret feel between this new scope and the previous one is night and day. These new turrets are extremely tactile. Anyone that views the video can get a sense for it. They are the firmest clicks I’ve ever seen on a scope except perhaps my old Optronika Premier… although I can’t be sure as I no longer own that scope. While they are the firmest, they also have a “sharp” sound and sensation as opposed to a heavy thickness like on the S&B. The only con I find with these turrets is that there is a little play in between adjustments, but not enough to give me doubt as to my setting.

These turrets have 15 mils per turn and also has a small indicator that goes from black to white for when you’re in the second rev.

When going into the second rev on my first ZP5, it was extremely difficult. I thought for a micro second that I might break the scope. After I felt safer about it, I didn’t care about the added tension as I’d have little reason to dial in that much elevation on that rifle anyhow.

Now with the new ZP5, there is still a small amount of added tension when going into the second rev, but it doesn’t cause any issues dialing in your adjustment. Looks like they’re paying attention to us.

The windage turret works the same to the elevation turret.



Nightforce: From an aesthetic standpoint, it may sound silly, but I’ve always thought of Nightforce turrets as being beautiful.

The turrets are also very tactile and nothing anyone would likely complain about. Just barely lighter than the Schmidt. NF has done an excellent job with these turrets.

NF has taken a different route when compared to others and is using an older style type turret that rises as you turn it and shows lines. There are no pop-up indicators, color indicators, etc. I believe this is mainly because of us.

Years back, when the NF BEAST was released, many of us complained and complained about how we just wanted an FFP NSX with higher magnification. NF essentially delivered exactly what we wanted so no complaints there.

Now I do have one thing I don’t like. The turrets are 12 mils per rev, which is just fine, but when you’re on the second turn, there are no second set of numbers like the other scopes. It’s not a big deal and in any scenario where you’re past 12 mils, you probably have the time to figure out that 14 mils is actually 2 on the second rev, but I would have liked a second set of numbers… i.e. 13, 14, 15, 16. I’m guessing this likely didn’t happen because if one has a base that has enough cant, you could potentially have enough elevation to go into the 3rd rev, but for some odd reason, it bothers me.

This can all be easily remedied with a custom turret label so it’s not a big deal, but again, we’re knit picking the pros and cons of some of the best scopes on planet earth. Hence why I bring it up.

The NF has a cover for the windage turret. Removing it gives access to a full size turret. This is a nice touch as there are many of us that mostly hold for wind.



Vortex: The Vortex turrets have the lightest clicks of the group. This is in reality an almost ridiculous statement because they are perfectly tactile and firm clicks and I imagine they would please just about anyone with the way it “feels”. There’s never any doubt where you are on the scale. With 10 mils per revolution, it has the best spacing between clicks as far as I’m concerned.

As you go into the 2nd rev, a pop out indicator shows itself, and then again as you go into the 3rd rev, the pop out indicator comes out further with an additional etched line showing you where you are. It is very well done and causes no change in tension of the turret when you’re moving to a different rev.

These turrets feature a locking aspect that is very simple and effective. Pull the turret out when you want the turret to spin freely, and push the turret in to lock it.

The feature that really stands out with these turrets is the zeroing mechanism. It’s different from anything else on the market. As this scope has been on the market for a considerable time I’m guessing most folks know and understand how it works but for the sake of those that don’t I will attempt to explain it.

Essentially, you remove a cover on the top of the turret and there is an interior scale that moves independently of the exterior scale printed on the turret itself. The really nifty aspect of this that it allows you to make witness marks on the interior scale so you can have different zeros for different loads or cartridges. I don’t know if this was done on purpose or by mistake, but it is a nice feature.

The windage turret works the same as the elevation and also features the locking mechanism.



Schmidt & Bender: On this specific Schmidt, I opted for what is now considered, the older Double Turn turrets. I’ve owned various Schmidts with both the DT turrets as well as the Locking MTC style.

Frankly, the turret “feel” on the DT turrets is extremely nice. It exudes quality. While the Minox clicks are louder and a bit more tactile, they have a hollow, sharper feeling whereas the turrets on the Schmidt feel “thicker”? I think that’s the way to describe it. Think rolls royce.

The turrets are 14 mils per rev and when going into the 2nd turn, small square windows on top of the turret turn yellow to signify the 2nd rev.

The windage turret is a little different from the others in that it only shows marking every 0.2 mils, however there is a perceptible click and adjustment at every 0.1 mils. Not an issue at all as in reality, maybe some of you can guesstimate wind to that degree of accuracy, but I can’t.



Please note the following is MY subjective opinion. Everyone has different requirements and likes/dislikes.

Turret Feel: TT > Schmidt > Minox > NF ≥ Vortex

Turret Stiffness: Minox > TT ≥ Schmidt > NF ≥ Vortex

Overall Turrets (Taking feel and all features into account): TT > Vortex > Schmidt = Minox > NF

At the bottom of this post, is a link to a video of the turrets and adjustments being spun.

Parallax

The ability to remove parallax is paramount in a long range optic. It can easily be the difference between a hit or miss by a significant margin.

It is interesting that folks get so frustrated about the “numbers” on their parallax knobs not lining up with actual distances. According to manufacturers, the numbers printed are for specific atmospheric conditions and should only be used as a gauge of what direction you’re turning the knob. They rarely if ever really line up with actual distance and then you have to ask yourself, are we talking meters or yards? (Oddly, the numbers more often than not actually do line up correctly with the S&B.)

I personally don’t look at the numbers or even the scale really. I make sure my diopter is set correctly and the just spin the parallax knob like it’s a focus ring on a camera. I move it back and forth until I find the sharpest point and then I check for parallax error. If there is still parallax error, from there I turn the knob a small amount until I’ve removed it. When everything is setup correctly, the sharpest focus should also coincide with a parallax free image. If this is not the case with an optic at this level, it could likely be user error. I imagine there may be specific atmospheric conditions where this may not be the case, but I honestly don’t know. If the image is 95% of the 100% sharpness it could be but I have a no parallax error, I just send the round down range. In reality, you’re likely losing more resolution and image fidelity from things like mirage or haze anyhow.

Having said this, in order to effectively use the parallax knob, I prefer them to be larger and easy to turn. I really dislike stiff parallax knobs. I’ve also owned scopes where for some reason or another, I found myself spending more time than I should removing parallax. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

I’m happy to say, all of these scopes have everything I want in a parallax knob.

An interesting thing to note is that the Minox and TT parallax knobs only rotate approx 180 degrees. The other turrets attempt to use almost all of the 360 degrees of rotation. I have no preference as they are all easy to use.

The other thing of note is that both the Schmidt and NF can focus REALLY close. Like 10 meters close, which is wonderful for 22lr or even dry fire practice in the house. The Vortex can focus as close as 32 yards or 29 meters. The TT and Minox come in at 50 meters.

Apparently, it’s very difficult to design an scope that is magnificent optically but can also focus close. Seems you have to give up something to get that feature. I always wonder at this, considering the Schmidt has been doing this for well over a decade and NF seems to have figured it out.

If I had to chose between close focus and magnificent optics though, I’d go with magnificent optics myself.

Hopefully with continued advancements in optical design, we’ll see more scopes that bring everything to the table.

Tracking

At this level in the playing field, if a scope doesn’t track, it’s beyond shameful. It is essentially the most important aspect of the scope and if the manufacturer didn’t engineer accurate tracking, they should be spanked.

All of these scopes with the exception of the Minox, have been shot regularly and up to approx 10 mils of elevation without any issues. I haven’t had a lot of opportunity behind the Minox as it is fairly new to me since it is a replacement. I imagine it has good mechanics, and I will update this post if people are still interested a few months down the line.

There are quite a few videos of tracking tests for random samplings of these scopes on youtube.

The amount of available elevation in all these scopes is phenomenal. Every single scope provides me more than 20 mils of elevation on a 20 moa base. More than enough for most users. The scope that really stands out is the NF. Even though it has a significantly higher magnification (which historically with scopes of this magnification generally meant less elevation adjustment), it has a lot of available travel. Certainly more than what it states on their spec sheet. On a 20moa base, with 100 yard zero, I get around 22 mils of travel. That’s pretty amazing. I know others have had success running it with a 40 moa base, giving them 28 mils of travel!

Optical Clarity

Ah yes, what most folks really want to know is, “how good is the glass”? Like many of you, I have a glass fetish.

Before I get into specifics about each scope, I want to point out that these are my personal observations and certainly not the end all.

I have spent time behind each scope in various lighting conditions from overcast and flat, to bright and contrasty, to hazy to heavy mirage.

Please note that they are all incredible from an optical clarity standpoint. You really need to sit these scopes side by side in most cases and study the image to see any real difference between them. In many cases, you would likely struggle with it and go back and forth on your findings.

All of them should please all but the absolutely most discerning individuals.

At one point out of sheer curiosity, I put up a basic resolution chart, similar to the USAF 1951 chart out at 100 yards. One thing I’ve noticed is just because a scope can resolve a very specific black/white resolution chart, doesn’t really encompass your true experience with the scope. There is color involved and how CA affects edge definition as well as the level contrast and how it plays a role in what you ultimately see as detail. There were times where one scope seemed to out-do the other and then in a different situation it would be vice versa.



Hence why many experienced folks will say that glass is often very subjective because everyone’s eyes are different.

Tangent Theta: From most reports I’ve read, this is supposed to be the new Holy Grail of sports optics. I’m here to say that optically, this scope can not disappoint the shrewdest person. Of all the scopes here, I believe it’s tied with the Minox with its total resolving ability (when I refer to total resolving, I mean with all factors included, not just a black and white resolution chart). The detail you see with this scope is easy to see and does not require effort. Simply put, the image is stunning. It has a good amount of contrast while still resolving a ton of detail. This is no small feat as you usually get one or the other.

With regards to the USAF 1951 type chart, I was able to see down to group -2 section 6. Those are some itsy bitsy little lines and numbers. At 25x two other scopes could also resolve to the same group and section, and one even further, but overall image quality, when you take into account contrast and CA, the TT came out tied with the Minox as the best to my eyes.

There is no discernible CA even in a very high contrast situation.

This may sound strange given everything I’ve read says this optic does not tunnel, but mine tunnels an inconsequential amount from 5x to approx 5.2x. It doesn’t matter of course but I call them like I see them.

If this scope isn’t optically good enough for you, you should leave the sport.

Minox: This scope obviously shares some lineage with the TT. If you look at the TT, Minox and Premier scope dimensions, they’re nearly identical. As far as I know, a large part of the original optical design for all of the scopes were done by Optronika. It is very possible and likely that TT and Minox tweaked the prescription and coatings. We’ll likely never know since it’s all proprietary info. But there are some subtle differences which leads me to believe they are not the same.

To my eyes, this scope is pretty close to the optical equal of the TT. It may have slightly more contrast than the TT, but I’m uncertain at times.

Getting behind this scope will likely make your mouth drop. I know it did with mine. I remember lying down behind my first one and saying, “Holy crap this is incredible!”.

There is no discernible CA even in a very high contrast situation.

Interestingly, there is no discernible tunneling unlike its cousin the TT.

Simply put, the Minox and TT are optically the most amazing scopes I’ve ever looked through.

Nightforce: Prior to the ATACR line being launched, the only thing people ever complained about with NF was the glass.

From what I recall of the few NSX scopes I used to own, they have plenty of resolution, but didn’t have much “pop”. This never caused me to miss a shot as missing the shot was usually my fault to begin with and certainly not because there wasn’t enough contrast in the sight picture.

With the ATACR line, NF has changed their design and coatings, and we now have both.

The image quality of the 7-35 F1 is nothing short of amazing.

With regards to the USAF 1951 type chart, with the scope set to 25x I was able to see down to group -2 section 6. Set at 35x I was able to see to group -1 section 2.

While this prescription doesn’t handle CA like the TT or Minox, it still does an excellent job of minimizing it in high contrast situations. In any otherwise normal situation, I think one would have a difficult time inducing CA or noticing it.

It has been difficult to really get a really good handle on the image at 35x because mirage and/or atmospherics always seem to get in the way. From what I can tell, I do believe the optic continues to resolve all the way to 35x.

I can’t see myself wanting to shoot at 35x but it makes for a great tool for observation.

The optic has plenty of “pop” as many would call it I really enjoy spending time behind it.

On a side note, I know this review doesn’t include the NF 5-25 F1, but I did compare it with my 7-35, and I felt the 7-35 was just a touch better optically. Aside from the wider field of view of the 5-25, slightly more elevation, and lower cost of entry, I kept the 7-35 and sold my 5-25 because the idea of being able to zoom to 35x and still resolve detail is pretty nifty.

There is a tiny bit of tunneling from 7x to 8x but I didn’t buy a 35 power scope to shoot it at 7x. I didn’t even notice it until I started looking for it for the express purpose of this review.

Schmidt & Bender: As most know, this optic has been the gold standard for a very long time and rightfully so. It’s been barely a few years that many of todays scope manufacturers have been able to bring to us a scope that can honestly compete head to head with the S&B.

While it is has a much older optical design, the image fidelity it provides is still at the very top of all sport optics.

The TT and Minox may barely edge it out optically, but we’re talking in minutia here.

With regards to the USAF 1951 type chart, I was able to see down to group -2 section 5.

The Schmidt resolves everything you can throw at it, focuses down to 10 meters, has plenty of “pop” and has a parallax knob that is extremely easy to use. The image is a bit warmer than the other scopes. I used to think this was just sample variance, but after having owned a few of these scopes, I realize it’s by design.

It does have less contrast than all the other scopes save the Vortex and handles CA like a king. Only the TT and Minox handle CA better and that’s not saying much since inducing CA on the Schmidt is pretty difficult. The image though is very pleasant to look at.

The only downside (to some, not to me so much), is that the Schmidt is essentially a 7-25x scope. It tunnels pretty heavily from 5x to 7x. The image size decreases from 7x to 5x but the field of view does not increase.

Vortex: Optically, this scope is excellent.

With regards to the USAF 1951 type chart, I was able to see down to group -2 section 5 so it tied with the S&B. However, like I mentioned before it isn’t just about resolving little lines on a black and white image.

In then end, I find the S&B image more pleasing as the Vortex has a bit more CA than the other scopes. But again, it isn’t a significant amount and mostly visible in high contrast situations.

I’d say it does more than 90% of what the other scopes can do? Which basically puts it above nearly every other scope i’ve ever looked through in the last decade. A decent amount of contrast. More than enough to give you that feeling of “pop”.

This may be one of the scopes I’ve spent the most time behind and I’ve always enjoyed it. I’ve never felt handicapped in any way with it.

No tunneling at all. There is something interesting that happens when you go from 4.7x to 4.5x but it isn’t tunneling.

Overall Optical Resolution: Minox = TT ≥ NF = S&B > Vortex

USAF 1951 Style Resolution Chart: NF ≥ Minox = TT > Vortex = S&B

Image Contrast: Minox ≥ TT > Vortex = S&B = NF

Chromatic Aberration Control: Minox = TT > S&B > NF > Vortex

Depth of Field: Minox = TT > S&B ≥ NF = Vortex

Eye Box Flexibility: Minox = TT = Vortex > NF = S&B

Reticles

Reticle choice is a very personal thing. Everyone has their own justification for their reticle choice.

I’ve seen many arguments about how someone thinks H2CMR is the king… no the SKMR is… no no, how about the EBR-7… you kidding me, I prefer Gen2XR… etc. It goes on and on.

Right now, for my personal taste, Minox easily has my favorite reticles. The MR2, MR5 and MR4 are just done right. I currently have and MR4 and it delivers just about everything I could want in a reticle and has the perfect subtensions. Vortex makes some great reticles and I really like my EBR-2C except I prefer the floating dot on the MR4, and the fact that the mil numbers are on the outside of the christmas tree as opposed to the way Vortex does it. But this is obviously personal preference.

I was not a fan of Nightforce’s Mil-R reticle, but after a couple of years of using it, it has grown on me. Once you study it and use it, it works just fine. I feel it is a good thickness at 25x. It does feel a bit thick at 35x but I just don’t see myself shooting at 35x.

With the S&B I opted for the MSR reticle. I think it’s a nice and simple design and one of my favorite for a non christmas tree type. The only thing I’d change in it is the make the center crosshair subtentions thinner like on the Minox MR5 or Kahles k624i.

Where the TT disappoints me, is with the Gen2XR. You either love it or it’s just good enough. For me it’s the latter. It’s plenty serviceable and the subtensions are great for long range, but I feel it is a bit dated. It seems TT can’t manufacture the scopes fast enough so they have no interest in updating the reticles. I do remember when Gen2XR was considered one of greatest reticles ever though. People paid a huge premium to get one on an S&B or USO. To each their own.

Warranty & Customer Support

Awesome warranties are great, but I prefer a warranty I never have to use.

Of the many scopes I’ve owned, the only ones I’ve never had to send in for warranty service, were made by Nightforce. That’s not to say they don’t break, all mechanical things break eventually, however of the 7-8 I’ve owned, I’ve never had a problem. Perhaps I’ve been lucky but the confidence it inspires is priceless.

I’ve had the opportunity to interact with customer support with all the other companies and here are my limited personal experiences:

S&B has a gem in Jerry Ricker. He is very quick to respond to any inquiries and the one time I needed a repair, it was done state side, quickly and efficiently. They recently clarified that they have a 20 year warranty. Don’t know that I’ve ever used anything for 20 years of my life, so i’m plenty happy with that. S&B has been around since 1957. I figure they’ll be around a while longer.

Minox warranty is handled by Blaser USA. They are very responsive and try hard to make things right. The only issue is that scopes need to be sent to Germany so turn around is longer. I sent in a scope to change a reticle (seems I was the first ever to do this), and it couldn’t get back through customs because of the reticle change. They simply sent me a new scope without a seconds hesitation. I was fine with that. They took care of me and given that I always have a backup scope or two that I’m playing with, the turn around time has never bothered me. Minox has a lifetime total coverage warranty.

I recently attempted to contact Tangent Theta over my Christmas vacation, and I got a response from a kind and lovely lady at ATI that the TT technical team is on vacation until next year. Luckily, some fellow snipershide members got me sorted out and my problem ended up being user error so no harm done. Far as I know, TT has very few issues as their QC is supposed to be extreme.

Vortex is what all manufacturers should aspire to be in terms of customer service and support. They have no equal in this. You might know already, but they have an online presence and are constantly looking for ideas to make their products better. Without any solicitation on my part, I have been messaged quite a few times with helpfulness. They have an unprecedented, unlimited, transferrable, no questions asked warranty.

Misc

Here’s where I put into words some of the minutia of things that sort of might not matter, but I noticed here and there.

The first thing that comes to mind, which is kind of silly almost, are scope caps. Let me say that I despise Butler Creek. Since they were bought out by whoever bought them, the plastic they use changed and I get about 2 range trips worth of use out of their caps. Pretty much screw them. Don’t care if they fix it or fixed it. Done with them.

The Schmidt 5-25 come with them. :( Sad Panda. When I receive a S&B 5-25, I immediately replace the caps with Tenabraex caps. It’s interesting to note that Schmidts come with Tenabraex on their other PMII models.

Here’s where it gets silly… like really? We’re talking about scope caps now? The TT also comes with Tenabraex, but they’re different. They’re better. They sit flatter and have a tighter fit when you close the cap. Attention to detail!

The NF come with Tenabraex cap standard as does the Minox. The Vortex comes with none.

All 4 scopes save the NF use magnification rings that rotate independent of the ocular housing. The NF entire ocular housing turns to change magnification. Some people hate this so be warned. Something about scope caps getting in the way. They are Tenabraex so they do turn, but my solution is to simply remove the caps and put it in my pocket when i’m shooting. One nice thing about the way the NF magnification works is it’s very easy to grab and use.

The TT and Vortex have smooth magnification rings. Does this really matter? No, as they aren’t horribly difficult to turn, but I personally opt for a switchview in that situation. The S&B ring is rubberized and easier to turn than the others, but that could be sample variance. The Minox has a bulge that sort of can act as a switchview which is nice.

When it comes to zeroing the scopes, the NF is most work intensive to setup. Not saying it’s difficult by any means, but the other scopes are easier to not only set your zero, but also your zero-stop.

They’re all similar in size and weight save the Vortex. It’s def heavier than the others. Once mounted on a bolt gun though, seriously doubt you’d notice. I’m waiting for a new 6.5cm gas gun to arrive and I’ll be putting it on that and see how it balances. I’m guessing it wont matter, given the 22” barrel and PRS stock I’m also putting on that rifle.

More will probably come to mind and i’ll update if I can think of it.

Final Thoughts

I am extremely pleased with all of these scopes. I’d be happy with any of them to be honest. After having bought and sold many other scopes, these are the ones I currently like the most in this high magnification heavy weight category.

There is a significant difference in overall pricing between the scopes, from the Vortex Razor coming in at the lowest price of the bunch at $2500, all the way up to the $4500 for a Tangent Theta with the rest sprinkled in between. That’s a pretty big leap between the Razor and TT.

I think it’s interesting that the S&Bs have come down in price considerably. They are now being sold at similar pricing to when they were first released over a decade ago. Not too long ago S&B pricing was hovering around $3500+. While expensive, I still thought in many ways they were worth it. Around the time S&B pricing went into the stratosphere, Vortex shows up with the Razor Gen II and put everyone on notice. Suddenly, you could have a boat load of features, with top tier glass for less than $2500. The only penalty was weight. I bet that really shook all the other manufacturers up.

Since then, S&B streamlined the number of offerings they have (and they had a ridiculous number of offerings which explains their old pricing structure), and now they’ve become extremely competitive pricing wise. Matter of fact, it is now only a bit more expensive than the Vortex. I don’t know how this will affect the perceived quality of their scopes but I know quality hasn’t dropped in the slightest.

Then comes along Minox with a scope that is in my opinion, optically the equivalent of the current king, the Tangent Theta, but gives you better reticle options at a much lower cost. Time will tell if it has any issues or tracks as well as the TT. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone with a TT that didn’t track true. Matter of fact, there are people who seem to get a kick out of figuring out just how exacting the tracking on a TT is. Whatever the case may be, the Minox is a scope worthy of being considered amongst the best in the world.

The Nightforce ATACR 7-35 F1 was a big surprise to me. I didn’t expect it and was perfectly happy with my Nightforce ATACR 5-25 F1 but the idea of their 7-35 is so appealing that I had to see what it was about. They took a phenomenal scope and added onto it. Since Nightforce entered the FFP game, they’ve really done amazing things.

Each scope has its pros and cons and I feel like all of them will impress anyone looking for a top tier tactical scope. I say, choose the options you can’t live without and the reticle you most desire, and have at it. In the end, only you can decide if one is worth the extra cost of entry over the other.
 

phillip61

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Jun 14, 2012
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It is my understanding the 2 scopes you said had the best glass ( TT & Minox ) both use Schott Glass. I just bought the New Recon and can say the glass is nothing short of amazing. ...everyone always says "its not the glass, its the coatings and how its polished", but every time you read one of these threads where someone is comparing glass from several scopes, the ones with Schott Glass always seem to be the favorite??
 

Bkultra

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Feb 7, 2007
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Pretty sure IOR isn't anyone's favorite but yours... Nice job bringing it up, yet again, in a thread that has nothing to do with them.