Tactical rifle scopes are meant for tactical situations where the value of the first shot hitting the target is much more important than consistent pinpoint accuracy. 2020 seems like not such a good year for tactical rifle scopes in terms of introducing new products, as most were supposed to be introduced at the German IWA 2020, which was, unfortunately, cancelled due to the fast-spreading pandemic. The same goes for Shot Show 2021, as well as IWA 2021. However, most novelties were introduced at the beginning of the year, and next year seems set to move even faster. So here is our tour of the new tactical riflescopes to look out for the past year.
Premium (2000 €+)
Leica’s 2020 PRS 5-30x56i model of tactical riflescopes introduced at this year’s Shot Show is optically and mechanically astounding. Even though Leica is a renowned company that offers products of the highest quality, the price of this device is reasonable. The new PRS 5–30x56i is a high-end, first focal plane riflescope designed for long-range sport shooting. The device came out in January and is already extremely popular.
With such a lengthy name, the new March 5–42×56 FFP High Master surely has to be packed with features. The device was released in May 2020, and until then, we were impatiently waiting if March would keep their promise. And it did – the device has a huge elevation range of 40 MIL, amazing optics, accompanied by perfected turrets, and plenty of other advanced features produced for the most demanding long-range shooters.
Of course, Kahles is one of the producers that cannot be missing from our specially selected top 2020 products list. Kahles K18i is sure to be Kahles’ most successful tactical wide-angle riflescope, perfect for IPSC and 3-gun competitions due to its 8x zoom factor and a great field of view. This tactical riflescope is also extremely lightweight, as well as compact, and some might even recognize it as Swarovski Z8i 1-8×24’s optical twin because of the optical quality. This wide-angle scope is as Kahles would say, “perfected for competition”.
Zero Compromise Optic 4-20×50 and 5-27×56 are two products from a newly-established company, and these are its first two optical devices, released in 2020. The company was launched two years ago, but it took a while to gain the public’s trust. Well, our trust was rightfully gained, as these rifle scopes are wondrous and definitely deserving of more attention. The two new Zero Compromise Optic rifle scopes seem to promise a lot, and we figured that they also deliver with their fine locking turrets, quality turn indicator, and huge elevation range.
Let’s not forget about the upgrade of the IOR’s Crusader. The 2.0 version with a slightly different configuration (5-40×56 instead of 5.8-40×56) has the parallax adjustment on the side turret instead of where the objective bell joins with the tube. The illumination is now controlled via two buttons, and the elevation turret is equipped with a locking function. The price has gone down, the Crusader 2.0 costs around 2500 EUR. A great long-range tactical riflescope that you should not miss!
To make 2020 a bit better, Kahles introduced their new Kahles SKMR4 or the Shannon Kay Milling reticle. This is a reticle with an additional 0.2 MIL spacing that was introduced somewhere in the middle of the year 2020 by a professional PRS shooter. Currently, the reticle is available only with the Kahles K525i 5-25×56 riflescope.
Upper Midrange (1000 €-2000 €)
Jumping onto the topic of great optics that do not dry out the wallet as much, the Athlon Cronus BTR Gen II series should be your call regarding this year’s products. For tactical use, 4.5-29×56 with FFP configuration stands out the most. They are equipped with a new mechanism and tactile clicks that are even more crisp and audible.
If you are of the opinion Delta Optical Javelin FFP 4.5-30×56 riflescope seems like a copy of their popular Poland-based Delta Stryker HD 4.5-30×56, you would be correct. A lot of specifications are similar, almost identical (like high-quality ED optics), but the newer model is far more affordable. This product is our top pick this year in this price class when it comes to the quality-price ratio.
Lower Midrange (1000 €- 500 €)
Moving on to the lower midrange, the Athlon Helos BTR Gen II series was introduced in December 2020. Helos rifle scopes have always been popular but are still gaining their popularity with the newly added ’zero stop’ feature, the new locking function on the turrets, and a wide elevation range. The available models are 1-10×28 SFP, 2-12×42 FFP, 4-20×50 FFP, 6-24×50 FFP and the latter is currently also the cheapest Athlon 34 mm riflescope on the market.
Primary Arms did not introduce many novelties in the past year, but their tactical riflescopes are still extremely popular and well-liked in the price range from 500 € to 1000 €, thus they are worth buying (we are referring to the Gold series and some riflescopes from the Silver series here). New for this series are the enhanced locking turrets with return to zero, new motion sensing reticle illumination, and the hardened steel-on-steel adjustment system.
Also released in 2020, Vortex Strike Eagle 5-25×56 offers a lot for its price, as it is packed with various features. This scope was designed for long-range shooting and it has a 34 mm thick main tube and a wide field of view. It has 32 MIL of elevation, which can hardly be found on any other scope for this price.
Regarding Vector Optics, Continental FFP is an amazing series overall, not just this year. Vector Optics might be a fairly young name in the world of optics but the company itself still has a lot of experience behind them. They are also an OEM manufacturer, meaning they produce optics for other brands – they have a ton of experience in this field. This series has great quality glass, a generous eye box, a 34 mm tube, a zero stop, and rings for mounting on Picatinny rails.
Entry Level (Below 500 €)
Continuing with Vector Optics and their new 2020 series, they are also the star players at the entry-level. The FFP Taurus is amazing as it costs only around 300 €–400 € but works incredibly and is placed in the quality range when it comes to tactical riflescopes. What is more, when buying these scopes, you get free Picatinny rings along with the device.
Delta Optical presented an interesting CQB wide-angle riflescope this year called Hornet 1-6×24. It resembles the famous Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6×24 in a lot of ways. Hornet has a second focal plane, horseshoe reticle with 10 levels of illumination. There is an off-switch between each one. The turrets are capped. 2020 has been a great year for Delta as they’ve presented novelties in various categories.
Let us finish off this year’s favourites with Hawke Vantage IR 6-24×50 FFP, an illuminated rifle scope with a zero stop, and a side focus. This product costs only 400 €, which is extremely affordable and when buying a tactical rifle scope, Hawke cannot do you wrong and it certainly did not fail to impress at this year’s Shot Show.
Given the situation, there have been quite a few innovations in the field of tactical riflescopes in the year 2020. And since innovations cannot exist without competition, premium manufacturers mainly compete when it comes to who will deliver the best quality optics for as little money as possible. This also resulted in obtaining FFP MIL/MIL rifle scopes at extremely competitive prices, which was almost impossible a few years ago. It looks like 2020 was not that bad of a year for the group of tactical riflescopes after all.