2018 Best New Optics for Rifles, Handguns, and Shotguns
We use a lot of optics products during our regular testing of rifles, handguns, and shotguns, which gives us a chance to form opinions about how those products perform in the field.
We’ve had a chance to use quite a few new optics this year, including red dots, lasers, scopes, binoculars, and spotting scopes, while we have performed firearms testing for future issues. We shoot a lot of firearms every year, and with that round count comes the insight that what’s on top of the guns matters as much as the gun itself in many cases. Following are a few recommendations for optics that have proven themselves as worthwhile complementary products in firearms evaluations, but which we haven’t tested in head-to-head comparisons as yet.
The new XRS II 4.5–30x50mm riflescope is Bushnell’s flagship optic. Models are configured with first-focal-plane reticles, and reticle options include an illuminated G3 reticle ($3289), G3 reticle ($3149), H59 reticle ($3149), and TRMR3 reticle ($3149). ED Prime Glass creates rich color and contrast, and lock turrets with RevLimiter Zero Stop will not turn past zero. Gorgeous, but spendy.
Swarovski BTX Spotting Scope
The BTX is a unique system combining the features and benefits of a spotting scope and a binocular. The BTX offers both-eye viewing through all objective modules in the Swarovski ATX/STX series. It simply attaches to the objective. The BTX also features an adjustable forehead rest, which can be retracted for more comfortable viewing, and an aiming aid is integrated above the right eyepiece. When we’ve been spotting a lot of long-distance targets, we found this is an excellent piece of glass that your body will thank you for by reducing eyestrain and headaches. ($2988)
Zeiss Victory SF Binocular Laser Rangefinder Series
The premium Victory SF binocular laser rangefinder series is available in four models: 8x42mm, 10x42mm, 8x54mm, and 10x54mm. These binos are designed with enhanced ergonomics for comfortable operation over extended periods. Range capability is out to 2,500 yards. What is really cool, they can also connect to the Zeiss B.I.S. II ballistic calculator via Bluetooth technology, so with one click, the range, angle, equivalent horizontal distance, and holdover values can be quickly displayed. These are elegant tools with the best-possible glass and function, and they allow the shooter or spotter to get distance and firing solutions prior to putting the riflescope on a faraway elk or mule deer. Suggested retail prices start at $3250.
The Precision Lock Turret line of scopes features zero-locking and resetting capabilities plus side-focus parallax adjustment and a ballistic 3x6 reticle. Would we put the scopes in a paint shaker or submerge them? No. But for your plinker, they’re worth a look. That’s a lot of features for $100.
The CompM5 (suggested retail $1068) is a compact red-dot sight—in fact, it’s the smallest in the Comp series—powered by a single AAA battery, which gives it up to five years of continuous on power at position seven. An advanced wedged lens system offers dot clarity and makes the sight parallax-free. The CompM5 is compatible with Aimpoint 3XMag-1 and 6XMag-1 magnifiers as well as all generations of night-vision devices. The sight is offered in standard height for MSR mounting and absolute co-witness configurations.
The 1-4x24mm Level HD riflescope is designed for close- to mid-range targeting with both hunting and tactical rifles. It is equipped with an illuminated HRS bullet-drop-compensating reticle, which can be used to estimate range and elevation adjustments when shooting 223 Rem. ammunition. This reticle can also be switched to either red or green and features adjustable brightness settings. ($465).
The Laserguard Pro ($379, red or green) will fit Glock’s sub-compact pistols. The Laserguard ($229, red; $309, green) product line now includes red and green laser diodes for Smith & Wesson’s M&P 2.0 pistol and SDVE series of pistols, as well as the Sig P320 and the Heckler and Koch VP9/40 and VP9SK pistols.
The Black X1000 riflescope series is now called the FX1000 line, still with a first-focal-plane configuration and MRAD reticle option. Models include 4-16x50mm and 6-24x50mm. The P Tactical line includes a 1.5-4x20mm, 2-7x32mm, 3-9x40mm, 4-12x40mm. The M Tactical line includes 1-4x24mm, 3-12x42mm, 4-16x42mm.
Two new handgun sights have been added to the RMS line, and they eliminate an irritating problem. The RMS-C ($420) is a compact sight slimmed down to fit on narrower slides without any overhang, making the overall system more concealable. The RMS-C will fit the Smith & Wesson Shield, Glock G43, 1911 models, and 2011 model pistols. The RMS-W ($490) is water resistant and probably worth the slight price uptick. Both models fit the same footprint as the RMS, so existing users can easily upgrade.
The MT series ($48) of pistol-mounting kits allows shooters to mount a red-dot sight to a variety of centerfire and rimfire pistols. Very handy system if you have a lot of firearms you want to share a red dot between.
Written and photographed by Gun Tests Staff, using evaluations from Gun Tests team testers.