Riflescope is a crucial piece of a hunter’s equipment, and the sports optics manufacturers are well aware of that. In the last couple of years, the most amazing of novelties in the field of hunting riflescopes have been associated with electronics. Swarovski dS, for example, shook the world of optics three years ago with its advanced ballistics calculator and the technology cleverly hidden within its body. No game changers have been introduced in 2020, which probably has to do with the cancellation of IWA this year. No major hunting fair is going to take place anytime soon (both Shot Show 2021 and IWA 2021 have also been cancelled), so it might be the case that certain renowned optics manufacturers are postponing the release of something big. Nevertheless, there have been several interesting new releases this year (some of them were presented via online presentations) which should be pointed out.
Premium (2000 €+)
In the first half of 2020, Swarovski has been busy with the preparation for NL Pure binoculars release, which is why they have not unveiled anything new in the field of riflescopes. We do have to point out the Z8i 3.5–28×50 riflescope – even though it was released in the second half of 2019, it started attracting the masses in early 2020. Z8i is a famous series, known for top-notch optics and mechanics. The series lacked a true long-range hunting specialist until the release of 3.5–28×50, and Swarovski found it best to fill the gap with this outstanding scope. If you hunt on long range and do not settle for any compromises, then this riflescope is worth giving a try. With a very versatile magnification range and exquisite image clarity, you are sure to be amazed by it. It is primarily targeted at long-range and mountain hunters but will surely be used in other types of hunting as well. As all other Swarovski products in the field of optics, the 3.5–28×50 is engineered and manufactured in Austria.
Upper midrange (1000–2000 €)
This price class has been the liveliest in 2020 as regards the hunting riflescopes.
Kahles presented a new scope in the Helia series – 3.5–18×50, aimed at hunters who hunt at long distances. With more than 100 years of tradition in riflescope manufacturing, Kahles is famous for the indisputable quality of its optics. This robustly built and shockproof riflescope provides a sharp image edge to edge. It features a second focal plane reticle with a central illuminated dot.
Leica wanted to present Amplus 6 riflescopes at IWA 2020. Unfortunately, the fair was postponed and later cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Leica decided to present the riflescopes to the public, nevertheless. There are four models altogether – 1–6x24i, a model for driven hunting; 3–18x44i, designed for stalking and mountain hunting; an all-round 2.5–15x50i riflescope; and 2.5–15x56i, a twilight specialist. These riflescopes succeeded the Visus series, taking over the position of the most affordable among Leica riflescopes on the market. They are equipped with a fine central illuminated dot and famous Leica coatings including AquaDura®. The feature an elegant, aircraft-grade aluminium chassis with a conspicuous yet subtle Leica logo. This is a great opportunity to divert the attention to the Leica Fortis 6 riflescopes introduced last year (2019). They are slightly more expensive than the Amplus 6, but probably one of the most underrated hunting riflescopes currently on the market. If you want a flawless upper-midrange scope, check the Fortis 6 series out – you will not regret it.
2020 has been a great year for Minox. In the field of riflescopes, they released three new products under the catchy name of All-rounder. The name does not lie – 1–5×24 has you covered for driven hunts, 3–12×56 for twilight hunting, and 2–12×50 can be used in pretty much any hunting situation. These high-quality, made-in-Germany riflescopes feature a fine, fiber optic illuminated central dot. Thanks to the M*plus coatings, the light transmission rate is exceptional. All are optionally available with a Zeiss ZM/VM rail for mounting purposes.
Vortex has not forgotten about its European hunting fans. They released two interesting hunting riflescopes this year – 3–15×42 and 3–15×50, both named Razor HD LHT (Lite Hunter Tactical). These two lightweight scopes are designed with a classic European hunter’s wishes in mind. They come with a hunting reticle in the second focal plane, a central illuminated dot, a useful all-round 5x zoom factor magnification range and an open elevation turret with a locking function and 0.1 MRAD clicks. They are made in Japan and cost 1200 €–1300 €, depending on the model. As if they were not tempting enough, you get a Vortex VIP warranty if you purchase one.
Lower Midrange (500–1000 €)
GPO is one of the most interesting newly formed optics manufacturing companies. Their products offer plenty for the money, and the professionals who run the company are well-aware of the market’s demands. This year, they unveiled the Spectra series of riflescopes. The riflescopes are divided into price classes based on the zoom factor. The Spectra 5x and 6x series, priced 700–1000 €, perform impressively for the price. Models for all kinds of hunting scenarios are available. All of them come with a 30mm tube, quality lens coatings including GPObright™, iControl™ illumination technology, and a rugged, recoil-proof body. Spectra is well worth checking if your maximum budget for a hunting riflescope is set at 1000 €.
Entry level (Below 500 €)
After the success of the Optika 6 riflescope series introduced last year, Meopta has decided to present something similar but at a price even more affordable. Optika 5 riflescopes feature a magnesium tube with a diameter of one inch, a 5x zoom factor, capped turrets with a click value of ¼ MOA, and a second focal plane reticle. Several coatings, applied to the surface of the lenses, increase the optical capabilities of these scopes (MeoBright, MeoDrop). The Optika 5 series is a successor of the popular Meopro series with a 3x zoom factor. Even though these riflescopes were already introduced, they have not hit the market yet, at least not here in Europe – the delay is most likely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The manufacturers are starting to recognize the potential of a big maximum magnification in long-range hunting. In the premium level and above 1300 €, a 4x zoom factor has almost disappeared. Those who manufacture scopes for the lower midrange and entry level, are going for a huge selection within the series. With more and more manufacturers striving to get their share of the market, the competition is getting fiercer by the day