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BallisticXLR A-FEDS DOPE Table Cell Phone Case

Enter The BallisticXLR Accessories Store

Fresh from the creative mind of Meccastreisand, we have iPhone and Samsung Galaxy phone cases with ballistics data printed right on them. The BallisticXLR A-FEDS (Auxiliary – Field Expedient Data Set). It’s not just some cheesy inkjet print job or a junk sticker that’ll come right off. These products use Thermal Dye Sublimation to transfer the image to the item which means that the image is inextricably PART of the item.

High temperatures and high pressures are used to literally fuse the dye into the substrate. You’d have to destroy the item to damage the data. We have cell phone cases, water bottles and travel mugs already worked up and tested. Those are properly field grade.

Custom ballistics data emblazoned on the back of a rubberized iPhone or Samsung phone case. If your app dies, you’ve got a backup right there waiting.

BallisticXLR Data Emblazoned on an aluminum water bottle. Perfect for the field. Available in brushed aluminum or white.

Next up we’ll be bringing out T-Shirts, ball caps, sweaters, mouse pads and whatever else someone might want. T-Shirts will have the DOPE printed upside down on the front so you can simply look down to your chest for your ballistics data, even with complex firing solutions in play.

Ball caps are right on the heels of the T-Shirts. Ball caps will contain a quick data sheet. These are meant for use by your spotter. The spotter gets a range and vector to the target and usually has to look in a book. Why not just look at the shooters hat. Shooters usually turn ball caps around so they don’t get swatted by the scope on recoil. Well, that’s a perfect place for your spotter to read your DOPE from and they can do it from their peripheral vision.

Other accessories are in initial test production now. We’ve got mouse pads with reticle subtends on the way. Sweaters and hoodies with ballistics data are coming in the next few days.

To make a purchase: https://shop.spreadshirt.com/38346/?noCache=true or email your request to ballisticxlr@gmail.com and we’ll have a price and lead time to you usually same day.

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XLR Industries Tactical Butt Stock

You’ll do it too. You’ll start with the cheapest thing you can get and move gradually on to more costly options that work much better. You’ll do it because, like me, you are an idiot. Well, you are if you’re going to behave like I do/did/will.

Initially after building my rifles into MDT LSS stocks I was kinda low on dough so I went with MOE stocks I actually had on hand already. All I had to add was 20 bucks in cheek risers to each one. Then my scope rings got taller and those didn’t really fit. Beyond that I started doing more shooting from barricades and wanted more adjustability so the rifle would fit me better and I’d suffer less in the barricade stages.

                          So lithe and sexy!

I considered the MDT skeletonized stock offering and the Magpul PRS offering and oodles of others but when it came down to it another owner of a Mossberg MVP in a LSS chassis had one of the XLR Tactical stocks and I was sold in an instant. It wasn’t the looks alone, which are cool, that sold me. It was the adjustability and construction over the price.

The adjustment in recoil pad cant is awesome. The length of pull and cheek rest adjustments are not something to do in the field but they are still pretty easy to do. The XLR Tactical Stock does come with flush cups which few other offerings did. It’s also aluminum and not plastic which I particularly like since I’m rough with my guns and I break plastic stuff left and right.

Magpul MOE in the back on the Dodger Dog gun vs. XLR Tactical in front on the coral snake gun.

So what’s the good the bad and the ugly? Well the good is, everything works as designed. From the taper of the bag rest rail to the location adjustability of the cheek rest versus the length of pull. It’s really quite flexible.

The bad, it’s a bit of a bitch to adjust and you have to loosen all kinds of screws to do it so it’s best if you lay behind the rifle and someone else moves things into position and holds them while a third person snugs down fasteners. Adjusting it yourself involves a little trial and error.

The ugly, it’s not light. My MOE kit weighed almost nothing at maybe 10 ounces including the buffer tube but, the XLR weighs 1.6lbs all in. It doesn’t make a rifle any lighter. My normal match is a hiking course and every ounce hurts. Between my enormously long barrel, aluminum chassis and aluminum butt stock plus the heavy Accu-Tac bipod and the extra weight of the BipodExt my .223 weighs something like 13lbs.

The actual picture that made up my mind. Rifle is wearing Tactical Lite stock which lacks adjustable pad cant.

So why is it going In The Pelican now and why is it that it’s the 2nd one to do so? Well, after about a year of using one in matches and for recreation and having to set it up for several users and then myself back and forth, I went and bought a second one because it works too well not to. If I get a second of something it’s usually because it’s just right and I wouldn’t change a thing. In this case, I would change one thing. Add cast-off/cast-on adjustability to the recoil pad and cheek rest. Then it’s a 100% adjustable which it’s not far from now. That little extra is what I need though and nobody does it yet. XLR Industries, are you listening?

At less than $250 shipped (well, it was $225 + 10 shipping for me anyway) you really can’t beat it with a stick and if you do, you’re only going to fuck up the stick. Little adjustment wheels and fancy click detents or whatever might be slicker but they’re not going to be any better when you’re behind the gun. If you don’t have to deal with other shooters of all shapes and sizes using your gun then you won’t even have to deal with the only thing I found even slightly irritating, which was adjusting the thing.

For the guys at XLR: Kick ass job lads. Well done!

 

Review: US Optics B-17

Those familiar with me and my adventures & proclivities know I’m an unabashed fan of U.S. Optics. Why? Well, simply enough, they haven’t let me down. There have been times when I was pissed at them for one thing or another and I wish they’d have kept the ERGO models as an offering instead of doing TPAL only but you get what you get and with USO, you get liquid awesome.

What I have always had zero worries about is that the glass clarity, color rendition and resolution are always flawless. Also, their turrets are as accurate as any in the world, bar none.

Right side, USO B-17

Turrets, turrets, turrets. USO has never had the world’s most tactile clicks. They’re just fine but they’re not super notchy like say, a Bushnell Elite Tactical scope. The EREK knob used to be a real bitch to use. It’s basically a zero stop setting mechanism much like you find in Vortex Razor 2’s and such. It messes with the erector position to give you back all of your scope’s elevation travel that it possibly can. Great for serious long range shooting.

U.S. Optics Gen-1 EREK. Kinda a bitch to use.

The old EREK-1 turrets were a bitch but now they’re pretty epic. The parts you need a tool for you can use a case rim and almost don’t need the case head anyway. The parts that are tool-less are really tool-less. I was able to reset my zero in the middle of a stage at my last match (that’ll teach me to pull my scope off and re-position it before a match without zeroing properly). There’s now an elevation and windage turret lock which really helps with preventing sudden turret spins that you don’t notice. If you think it’s a non-issue you’re fooling yourself. Every match and every hunting trip someone is always finding out their elevation or windage turret has been spun and they miss critically important shots. All you do to slip the turrets is set the lock ring, loosen the top cap a turn or two, slip your turret, hand tighten top cap, unlock turret. All of that can be done behind the gun without tools. Super cool. The best part is the lock on the elevation is just a ring you lift or push down. It’s easy to get it cattywompus and not get it set but being that primitive it’s also easy as hell to use with gloved hands, cold hands (ask how I know) and in a hurry. It’s not stiff like a Vortex Razor 2 locking turret. You may like your lock rings stiff. I don’t need a workout myself every time I need to twist the knobs.

U.S. Optics B-Series EREK – New And Improved

The thing they still haven’t corrected is the numbering position of the elevation turret and it’s indicator line. It’s really hard to read from behind the gun. Without lifting your head it’s impossible. On the upside, the turret is extremely low profile. These two things are interrelated and can’t really be decoupled if you’re to stay as low profile as the EREK knob is. This one, I’m calling a tit for tat game and I’m happy to deal with it.

Setting up the Dodger Dog gun with my new B-17

Another really great feature of the B-series scopes as opposed to the older generation of US Optics (MR-10, LR-17, ER-25) is the size of the turret housing itself. It used to be really big which made the range of possible locations for rings to go kinda limited. Some rings were bordering on not being able to fit (really big rings though). The new turret housing is pretty compact and gives a ton more flexibility in mounting position. This was partially accomplished by moving the illumination controls into the parallax knob which removed the need to make the turret housing so huge. It’s a single button illumination control too. That can be annoying but it makes things compact. Illumination is, of course, completely devoid of bloom.

Weight is as you’d expect with great glass, a lot heavier than crap glass. The whole scope feels more lithe though. All the sharp edges from the previous generation have been tuned to non-painful radius’. Knurling is still very aggressive.

What’s the tracking like? Perfection. Sheer perfection. Here’s an example… I didn’t even qualify this optic in a tall target test or box test before taking it to the long gongs line. I had a decent zero though and really good ammo with known velocities. So going from a cold bore: First shot, hit 891yrds. Second shot, hit 790yrds. Third shot, hit 690yrds. Fourth shot, I jerked it and called the shot as shooter-pulled. 5th shot, hit 591yrds. 7th shot, hit 774yrds. 8th shot, hit 678. Then I had to reload my magazine. In all of that I had 3 clicks of windage dialed and held off for the changes to that as I came in. All I did was read my dope off of KAC Bullet Flight-M then dial what it said, aim and squeeze. The scope had to work perfectly. My data is always good (I’m really good at setting up ballistics apps as you might guess) and my rifle is a bug-hole shootin’ sum-bitch. All I needed was the scope to track. NAILED IT!

Mil-GAP Reticle – Stock Photo, not taken by me.

The MIL-GAP reticle on this one is not meant for PRS type shooting with rampant use of holdover and holdoff being combined. It’s meant to hold off for wind but to dial exactly for elevation so there’s no Christmas tree under the horizontal crosshair. There’s a little tunnelling at the lowest magnifications but otherwise they’ve improved on all of that kind of stuff progressively over the years. They don’t use a mask in their scopes so you get the full range of optical performance including tunnelling. At the top, it’s a non-issue. At the bottom, it’s plainly visible but not distracting.

What do I hate about it? Only two things. The design change to the windage turret means the cap is held on with multiple pinch screws instead of a single top-center screw. I’ve had those pinch screws fail already, at a training class and a second time in a competition. The old single screw design I never had a failure with. The other thing I hate is the internal bubble level (yes it has one, which is cool) isn’t level with the reticle and it’s impossible to see without the illumination running. At least on my scope. I run 2 other levels, a folding unit mounted to the outside of the scope and a fixed unit that sits on my BipodEXT bipod extender. The one on the outside of the scope is neat looking but honestly sucks to use. The one forward on my bipod extender is way more natural and easy to use.

These are still the best optics USO has ever put out that I’ve gotten to lay my grimy mitts on. One thing I really appreciate is they look more like a “normal” scope too. Older USO’s visual appearance was so different to the reset of the world of scopes that they really stuck out like a sore thumb. They really looked odd and got a lot of people bothering me at the range about what that weird scope was. Now, they more or less don’t even notice that it’s a very high end optic or that it’s a USO or that it’s not nearly as common as some others you might encounter. I don’t know about you, I don’t mind answering the odd query but I don’t get off on endless piles of people lining up to finger fuck my toys. It takes from my shooting time or adds to it. Either way, I don’t want it. What I do want is another of these B-Series scopes.

And, just to make things better a little video of me using the damned thing as well as my new Accu-Tac bipod and BipodExt Bipod Extender from Accuracy Solutions.

Product Review: Accuracy Solutions – BipodExt

The Snake Gun equipped with BipodEXT and Primary Arms 4-14x FFP ACSS.

My first statement holds. After using BipodEXT in competition and supplying selected students with it I can’t speak highly enough of it. You can see me using it in competition below. The day was as filled with challenges as it could be. I was using new ammo, a new BDC scope, a .223Rem in high wind conditions and transitioning targets under time pressure.

This round (Stage 7) I’m shooting from just over 200yrds to 500yrds using the BDC reticle on the Primary Arms 4-14×44 FFP scope with their brilliant ACSS HUD/DMR reticle on his Mossberg MVP with the BXT40X3 model BipodExt from Accuracy Solutions. The BipodExt bipod extender pulled every bit of wiggle out of my holds. It was like shooting from a machine rest. The thing didn’t slow me down either. Transitions between targets were just as fast as without it. My best .223 score at that match was a 22 of 50 in mild wind. My best score with the .223 in strong winds was 15 of 50 until this match. I scored 20 of 50 this time with strong winds up to 30mph. I attribute this score to the combination of stability from the BipodExt and the integrated wind hold-offs in the reticle on the Primary Arms 4-14x optic I was using. The 5 shots I picked up over my previous record could be split up 80/20 for accounting purposes favoring the BipodEXT as the causal factor. How can you tell?

Seth demonstrating new methods of use with BipodEXT. I am Meccastreisand’s victory over barricade stages.

You’ll notice that I’m calling my own shots throughout Stage 7. Part of that is the low recoil of a .223 but I’m calling those shots at close and far targets with a .223. Far is no big deal for the most part since you have time to recover from recoil. Close means recoil cannot have affected you enough to pull the target out of the scope view during recoil. Kinda rare even with a .223 unless recoil control is really given more weight than it normally deserves. The long lever length provided by the BipodEXT gets rid of muzzle rise even if you fail to load the bipod like you otherwise might.

Stage 5 above has me perched a little higher than is optimal due to the way the ground lays but that didn’t add any instability because my rifle was being rested so far from me, any wiggle I put in is not as effective at pulling the rifle off target. It takes quite a bit more input force to move the rifle around a sufficient distance. In a conventionally placed bipod arrangement the effective attachment point or fulcrum is about 20 inches from the shoulder and about 10-20 inches behind the muzzle toward the action. With the BipodEXT you can have an effective fulcrum 30-50 inches from your shoulder and up to several inches in front of the muzzle. What’s that matter?

TiborasaurusRex getting his giddy on behind the BipodEXT.

Well it’s a little like the effect of altitude over the target for a long range shot. If you’re 100 feet above the target at a distance of 100 feet then the angle is 45 degrees. If you’re 100 feet above your target at a distance of 1000 feet then the angle is about 5.7 degrees. MASSIVE DIFFERENCE. What the inventors have created is a way to get that effective distance to grow without making the weapon system unwieldy.

Stage 6 you can see something that I’m normally very bad at being done really excellently, follow-through. I’m staying on the optic and keeping that trigger back much better than normal. I attribute that to the sensation I got of watching a show on TV instead of through a magnified optic. The great glass in the Primary Arms optic helped but the stability from the bipod extender getting rid of all the jitter also got rid of my bloody near instinctive habit of slapping the trigger and coming off the scope too damned soon. It seems the jitter doesn’t play well with my brain and I am prone to taking subconscious steps to deal with that which are exactly counter productive. Add BipodEXT and I turn into a really sparkly good shooter with much improved execution on the fundamentals.

Former SEAL Charlie Melton wringing out the BipodEXT. He seemed to be a fan.

So what about the extra bulk and weight and all that. Well, my rifle still fits in my drag bag and there’s no extra weight to speak of thanks to carbon fibre and aluminum construction. It’s quick detachable so the idea that that’s something to legitimately gripe about is laughable. The cost is pretty tall but you have to come to grips with the fact that good kit costs good money. Sorry, no freebies in this world.

Nope, not cheap. Top quality stuff never is. It’s worth the money if you don’t like missing though.

What I didn’t cover at all above is the amazing versatility of the BipodEXT. Turn that forward section 90deg and brace your bipod against a window opening or a barricade or a fence post for PRS and similar action shooting matches. Put a long and short bipod on it if you want for rough country hunting to go from prone to kneeling to sitting to whatever rapidly. For police and military and those few that hunt mountain goats and sheep and such where extremely high angle shots are frequently the only shots to be had, you can stand up comfortably behind your rifle, set the bipod up in front of your muzzle and keep your spout out of the dirt, be ridiculously stable (tried this with great results), minimize fatigue and increase first round hit probability. For cops on top of skyscrapers and in the rafters at sporting events overwatching us with their sniper rifles stuck in tripods and hog saddles, they could be just as precise and more flexible and have an easier time concealing their position if they didn’t have to be so high up to use a tripod. Lower fatigue means improved interdiction and lower chance of collateral casualties or damage.

RX17 Live Fire 002 Student taking advantage of increased stability. That rifle as equipped is unstoppable and affordable. You don’t need to spend $5000 to have a well decked out precision long range rifle.

Any way you can get your bipod farther from your face will increase your ability to be stable and make precision shots rapidly. Yes you’ll lose some compactness and decimal points of speed/agility. Isn’t the decimal point loss in agility worth the orders of magnitude increase in endurance and precision? I think so. I won’t shoot a match without a BipodEXT again if I can possibly help it.

For a direct comparison, here’s the same gun, same shooter, same range just without the BDC scope and without the BipodEXT. In the beginning at stage 7 you’ll be able to see the side to side and vertical wiggle at my muzzle during firing and the much more dramatic appearing recoil and me missing more than I should be despite having massively more magnification (16x fixed instead of the 10x I was actually using on the Primary Arms 4-14x) and dialing precise DOPE instead of holding off. If I’d used the 16x SWFA optic along with the BipodEXT I probably would have picked up a few more targets.

The difference made by the BipodEXT at my last match was probably me picking up 3-5 targets I would have certainly missed regardless of the optic and because I was using a BDC at long range it was probably responsible for me not blowing that completely. The BDC was easy to use but very sensitive to cant and user error. It was really easy to avoid those two conditions with the bipod extender. Thanks to Accuracy Solutions for the loan of this amazing kit. I’ll have to buy one now, not so much because they’re excellent but because of the two I have for use by students, I’m never giving one of them back 😉 .

Dan, Seth and company. You guys really knocked this out of the park. I knew when I saw it at RX17 that it was going to really change my game and I think it’s going to change a lot of games. Keep these badass ideas coming!

Vectronix Vector 21 Nite Foward Observation Laser Rangefinder Binoculars

Have you ever looked at something and said, “Man, that’s just more expensive than it’s worth.”? Well, you might have that reaction to Vectronix products. Vectronix is one arm of Leica which is world renowned for the quality and precision of their optics. Vectronix takes that a little further biasing toward the military end of the market. The military’s of the world don’t have the kind of budget concerns that we mere mortals do so they often use kit that’s got price tags that look like serial numbers. That also means they have some of the most awesome and rugged bits and bobs to be had in their inventory and the manufacturers that sell to them will mostly sell the same stuff to civilians. So, if you’re in the rare air of long range precision shooting and you need serious kit, check out the military suppliers and the stuff they make.

The author’s test unit.

For example some people shoot to several hundred yards and they might get away with a golfers laser rangefinder. Some people shoot to over one thousand yards and they really need something like a Terrapin or a Sig Kilo2200MR or Leica 1200 and so on. Those are much more expensive. Then there are cretins like David Tubb and Charlie Melton and George Banke that make extreme range shots just for the seeming sake of making sure the rest of us know we’re not that good. They shoot well over 2000 yards and often quite a bit further. There’s nothing short of military level kit that’s going to do that reliably. This is why distance costs so much money. It’s an order of magnitude.

Look at Kilo2200MR’s, they’re like 400 bucks. No big. Vectronix Terrapins are 1800 bucks used and they don’t make them anymore. If you want something equally capable then you’re looking at stuff like PLRF15 and similar and the prices go way way way way up into multiple thousands of dollars immediately.

What if you need to lase a field of grass 12km away? Well here’s what you’d use. I personally ranged a dry grass hillside with the sun facing me at 10km. I couldn’t get farther because there’s nothing farther from me. 10km is about as far as you can see anything here, especially now with all the wildfires polluting the air. I lased a cow at 5km, a house at 11km, and on and on.

What’s the downside? Well, I picked this set up for about $8,000 and it weighs an absolute ton. We’re talking over 5lbs of optics with a heart stopping price tag.

How about the optics? The glass is as clear as any top shelf rifle scope, if not better. It’s stupid clear and the reticle in the view just helps that much more.

You can connect a data cable to military GPS units to it, mount it to a tripod and use it for ultra precise work at the extreme distance it’s capable of. It takes 6volt Lithium Ion batteries in pairs which seem to keep it working forever.

The 10x magnifier attachment screws right on and off and even seals so you don’t get water vapor or dirt between the magnifier and the binocular unit. The capabilities are just stunning too. It has a compass so it knows what direction you’re pointed. It also knows what elevation it’s pointed at so it can do a nifty thing. You can lase one target, then another and it’ll give you the slope distance between the two. You can range a target relative to another asset on the ground. Talk about sniper fuel.

From here on I’m going to leave you with some curiosity and a few pictures. Keep in mind that the unit I tested is actually the property of one of my long range students, not mine. I’m not that wealthy or that determined.

Retail price of something like a Vector 21 Nite is around $18,000-20,000 after all is said and done and there are export restrictions up the wazoo.

Product Review: Primary Arms 4-14×44 FFP ACSS HUD/DMR Rifle Scope

You know me. I have a longstanding disdain for BDC (bullet drop compensating) reticles. Most of that disdain is drawn from the unending habit of people that don’t know any better to try and use them for things they’re not meant for. BDC’s are for making super fast shots with greater accuracy than a guess and less accuracy than a ballistic firing solution. They’re wildly fast to use but lose a lot of precision to that speed. When I say “a lot” what I mean is that last fraction of a miliradian or minute of angle. Worst case, maybe 1 minute at the longest possible ranges and negligible amounts at closer distances.

Messy bench and all. That scope looks weird on that rifle. Gotta admit.

So let’s twist the discussion a little bit. At what point can you as a shooter say to yourself, “The level of precision I need for this is totally BDC territory. I don’t need pinpoint accuracy. Combat effectiveness will suffice.”? You might think that while hunting as a generic selection. You might think 3-gun competition. You might think actual combat is the territory of a BDC. You might be a smart ass and say it’s at conversational distances. The truth is more complicated. Whatever your target is and what you’re shooting at it dictate the answer.

Removed the Razor2 to test the 4-14×44. Removed the SWFA SS to install the Razor2.

If your gun shoots flat enough to land inside the lethal zone even if you misjudged or mis-held for the range despite you messing up, you can use a BDC there. In combat you just want to put metal on meat so the enemy’s people are spent treating his wounds and not fighting you. For hunting you’re looking to be as nice about killing that animal as possible. You want quick and clean kills with no suffering. For PRS competition you need fast and accurate. For screwing around shooting pop cans and eggs at long range you don’t “need” anything. That’s a completely optional activity and nobody’s keeping score.

Stage 5 from October’s Long Range Precision & Tactical Rifle Match:

Stage 6 from October’s Long Range Precision & Tactical Rifle Match:

Stage 7 from October’s Long Range Precision & Tacical Rifle Match:

I recently decided to try out a Primary Arms 4-14×44 FFP scope with their nifty ACSS HUD/DMR reticle in it at my monthly long range precision tactical prone match. I did this because I was curious not because I’m a glutton for punishment. As it turns out I put in my 2nd best score ever with a .223 (within 2 hits of my best score) and I crushed my previous best high wind .223 score by 5 hits. The weather was mild but winds were from 5-35mph and constantly changing directions.

I started out on stage 1 by counting mil-dots and calculating DOPE for the 600-1000yrd shots. Bad idea. That’s not how this scope works and it showed. I only hit the targets that I used the BDC on. That’s fine, over 600yrds right out of the gate and scoring any hits at all, I was happy to do it. Stage 2 I was still calculating based on MV and mil-dots but I was also comparing my real hit locations to the point of aim and the BDC. By stage 3 I gave up the calculating bit and just shot by the BDC and while I wasn’t hitting on stage 3 I was only missing on wind holds. The rest of the 8 stages I did ok on. Stage 4 was ok but while it started well it went right to hell on shot 3. By stage 5 I’d found my stride and started trusting the reticle with really good results. We went from stage 5 to stage 8 and then back to stage 6 and then stage 7 because some shooters are ridiculously, infuriatingly, heart rending slow (Byron, I’m looking at you particularly).

At the end of the day I’d posted a great .223 score landing me in the middle of the pack of everyone else who were shooting 6mm/6.5mm/7.62mm stuff from much bigger cases. Nobody ran the course clean, like always. The reason for my success? Wind holds and drops are on and it’s easy to use. 5mph or 10mph or in between or over or under… no worries. I had little problem doing it once I actually started doing it. Drops are really easy to use and against a man size target, boy I mean the bad guy is in a world of hurt. My misses were measurable in fractions of an inch mostly with the occasional several feet as well. In a military context I’d have one of these reticles on every battle rifle and triple the engagement range of my grunts. See how the bad guys like an army of designated marksman equipped with machine guns.

Oh yeah! “How about the scope itself?” I hear you saying. Well, simply: Great glass. Superb glass. You really won’t expect it to be that nice and you’ll be surprised. Good glass comes with weight and it’s not as light as you might think. Turret feel is plain ol’ shit. They’re rubbery as hell and vague and uncapped turrets aren’t necessary with a BDC. Tracking is actually ok. Wouldn’t rely on the tracking but it was accurate as hell for zero’ing. Eye box is really tight and unforgiving. Zoom and focus and parallax is all great. All in all I’d expect to pay a bit more. If they put more into the turret feel then I see a price twice as high coming with it. Leave the turrets for zero’ing and use the reticle for everything else and the scope is still a real bargain. Seriously, the glass is exceptional. As for durability? Well, I hauled it around a mountain all day, dropped it repeatedly on the ground and shot a match with it. Zero problems. So, not saying it’s battle ready but it’s certainly field conditions resistant.

I have to thank Dimitri and all the guys over at Primary Arms (http://primaryarms.com) for letting me use one of these amazing little scopes. The guys at the match started out with a little light hearted ribbing and by the end of the match they were plumb out of humorous jabs and were instead astonished at how well I was able to do without ever spinning a turret while surrounded with multi-thousand-dollar custom match rifles with multi-thousand-dollar scopes on top. There were a lot of compliments by the end of the day. Next I’m going to try it on my .308. Betcha I clean up.

Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27x56mm and 3-18x50mm

rzr-31802_vortex_razor_hd_d3_700_1

Talk about a home run. Vortex really nailed it with these. The package comes with a 4″ sunshade and tools all in fitted foam and a nice looking if understated box. The scope itself caught me off guard in a number of ways.

First, the price. Given the full feature set: Japanese made bona fide’s, amazing glass, locking turrets, illumination, zero stop, etc… and the perfection that they’ve all been implemented with the price is easily 1000 bucks under many contenders. How they’re able to do that I don’t know but I’m going to assume that they’re making up on margins with volume. From the ratio of Razor’s to competitive scopes I see at matches I’m going to venture to guess that such a strategy is at least a component of the resultant low price.

I was actually at a match when I bought my first Razor II, a 3-18x50mm. Another competitor had some of his scopes on the swap-meet table at the match and I bellied up to the bar and took a peek. His Vortex Viper PST’s were not really interesting to me but the Razor, that was an attention grabber. They’re so popular with so many top shooters that I couldn’t help but covet it a bit.

razor4-27_wet

Apart from the substantial heft (more on that later) the entire thing impressed me. Optically it was brilliant, the reticle design was great, turret feel and features were exactly what I’ve always thought of as perfect. The owner told me he got the 3-18x because no 4.5-27x’s were available at the time and he had matches to shoot. Once he got his 4.5-27x there was no need for the 3-18x and so I got it for a song.

vortexrazorreticle

As soon as I had one, I started to look at my US Optics scopes and considered how much more modern and comparatively well executed the Razors are and decided to move to Razor II’s for some of my match rifles. So, I went out and swapped my ER-25 from USO for a 4.5-27×56 Razor II and some accessories. It immediately fixed the balance issues I had from the ultra long ER-25 as the Razor is much much shorter in length. The rifle feels a lot better for positional shooting now and there’s no tunneling or vignetting like with the USO variables I’d had on top.

The heft is substantial. No joke but, also not unexpected with a top shelf optic. A 4.5-27x is right over 3lbs once you slap rings on it. The weight is excitingly evenly distributed along the length giving a nicely balanced feel to the thing. Not having the weight biased helps with rifle balance on my guns with their long heavy barrels. The mass of the optic helps shift that weight bias of the weapon system back toward the rear.

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Turrets are locking .1mrad with zero stops. Clicks are extremely positive but not difficult and there’s no accidentally landing between clicks. It’s in one notch or the other. The zero stop and re-settable turrets are fairly easy to deal with and allows for a little dial-under below your zero which is nice. The parallax knob is well placed, well sized and has just the right amount of resistance with an amazingly close minimum setting. The illumination control being housed inside the parallax knob helps to keep the package compact and doesn’t interfere with bolt handles like a lot of ocular bell mounted illumination controls. The illumination rheostat has off positions between every lit position meaning you don’t have to spin a bunch on the knob to turn it off.

The reticle is the christmas tree style EBR-2C reticle in MRAD. The hole in the center of the reticle is great and doesn’t obscure small targets. I have been loathe to accept the new tree reticles that have taken over the world but after getting into long range shooting that isn’t done from the prone position and where there are multiple shots and time limits that it’s actually super helpful especially when there’s variable wind in the mix.

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All in all it’s exactly what you’d expect from a tier 1 optic. Amazing glass, flawless implementation of every feature and well thought out ergonomics in a compact package that’s superbly capable of doing what it’s advertised to be able to do. A rarity in optics.

I did have one problem setting it up that turned out to be my fault and a quick call to their support line had the instructions I needed to verify a diagnosis and to take corrective action.

 

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