Gear Guide: New optics for deer hunting

January 16, 2013

Improvements in optical glass and coatings nearly allow humans to see in the dark today, and thanks to innovative reticle systems, hunters can make longer and more accurate shots, especially early and late in the day. New binoculars magnify views to pierce timber and brush so your prey can run, but can’t hide. Some double as rangefinders, and special sights have been developed for archers, shotguns, muzzleloaders and the growing field of crossbow sportsmen. Here’s a peek at today’s hot new products.

Aimpoint: Red-dot sights offer one of the fastest sighting options available for muzzleloaders, shotgun hunters and even archers. Last fall when I jumped a big buck in a driving rainstorm, that glowing dot allowed a quick, accurate shot that brought home the bacon. Law enforcement and military users have embraced this sight for its compact size, extreme durability, light weight and incredible battery life. This year, Aimpoint introduces its Micro T-1 and H-1 Sights with a two MOA dot, adding extra precision to each aiming situation. Available standard with wide field of view, an optional 3X magnifier is an interesting option. www.aimpoint.com

Alpen: The new Apex XP XTREME PERFORMANCE binoculars feature an improved and redesigned twist-up eyepiece system and prism housing for superior durability and performance in all weather conditions. The new XP binoculars offer multi-coated BAK4 optical design, PXA phase coating and HR metallic coating to deliver a crisp bright image even in dim light and ergonomic no-slip rubber design for better handling. XP models are waterproof, lightweight and rubber armored for comfort and durability, and they are backed by Alpen’s No-Fault Warranty. www.alpen.com

ATK/Weaver Optics: New for 2012 is the KASPA line of riflescopes from Weaver that strike the perfect balance between a passion for hunting and your pocketbook. The KASPA line delivers a bright, clear image, fog-free viewing, and crisp ¼-MOA adjustments for dependable accuracy. Each model features one-piece tube construction, is nitrogen purged to eliminate internal fogging, has fully coated lenses for enhanced clarity and light transmission, and features Weaver’s limited lifetime guarantee. Eight models are available in various magnification and reticle configurations ranging from $120 to $220 MSRP. www.weaveroptics.com

BSA Optics: Majestic riflescopes have a high durability, smooth power setting and easy-to-grip adjustment knobs, as well as being waterproof, fog proof and shockproof. BSA’s unique triangle reticle makes targets easy to acquire and focus on an exact spot. Models come with a lifetime warranty. www.bsaoptics.com

Brunton: Great magnification and a BDC reticle make the Brunton Eterna 3-9x40 an excellent deer-hunting tool by bringing distant and elusive animals up close for precise aiming. The tube features a fast-focus eyepiece, multicoated lenses, waterproof, shockproof performance and a ¼-MOA adjustment. The Bullet Drop Compensating (BDC) glass-etched reticle lets you zero the point of impact at one distance and use a series of aiming points to allow for trajectory. If you’ve never used computer-generated ballistic sighting, check Brunton’s website for a video tutorial. www.brunton.com

Bushnell: Fully multi-coated optics help the new Legend Ultra HD riflescope deliver 89 percent light transmission for a clear, crisp sight picture. Each riflescope is constructed with a sleek one-piece tube, featuring low-profile turrets, a slimline power-change ring and side focus adjustment. Each scope in the Legend Ultra HD family is 100-percent waterproof, fog proof and shockproof, and the optics are protected with the patented RainGuard HD coating. The permanent, water-resistant lens coatings cause moisture to bead up and scatter less light, allowing the scope to perform even in inclement weather. Magnification configurations range from 1.75-5x32 to 4.5-14x44. www.bushnell.com

CenterPoint Optics: Sighting big game animals at longer ranges is always a challenge, but CenterPoint’s new T.A.G. (Trajectory Aiming Guide) riflescope has the answer with unique, etched-glass reticles which provide near-instant distance compensation. The left side of the reticle is designed for standard (STD) rifle loads, while the right side is sighted for magnums (MAG). Or, chose a scope reticle with options for muzzleloader/shotgun (MUZSHG) and standard (STD). Other features include multi-coated lenses, a one-piece tube made from aircraft grade aluminum alloy, and reticle illumination. The 4.5-14x44 is a very versatile model for whitetail deer. www.centerpointoptics.com

EOTech: The Holographic Hybrid Sight (HHS) combines the speed of a holographic weapon sight and the extended range versatility of the new G33 magnifier. Offering true two-eyes-open shooting, the HHS is ideal for both close-cover whitetail hunting and long-range shooting by ensuring accurate shots from zero to 500 yards. Built for extreme weather, these optics are waterproof and fog proof. www.eotech-inc.com

Hawke Optics: Shotgun and muzzleloader hunters typically harvest game at relatively close range, and Hawke Optics introduces the DEERPASS SR series of sights specifically for slug and muzzleloader enthusiasts. Once the setup and sight-in procedure is completed, the shooter simply brackets the target by placing the appropriate predetermined measurement bracket on a known size area of the target and you’re ready to shoot (40 inches chest to tail, 12 inches nose to ear, 2-inch white circle around eye for deer). With built in 50-, 100-, 150- and 200-yard aim-points, the result is a quick, clear and accurate shot. www.hawkeoptics.com

Kelbly’s Inc. March Scopes: March Rifle Scopes offer an incredible 8-80X, allowing a hunter or shooter to bring unprecedented magnification to the shot. Each March scope is individually hand assembled and the main tube assemblies are machined from one solid billet of special heat-treated aircraft alloy. Lenses use special ED lens technology and all internal parts are special alloy steel and brass. Ideal for trophy hunters and precise rack evaluation, you’ll never suffer ground shrinkage again. www.kelbly.com

Leapers: After pioneering the red/green mil-dot reticle for more than a decade, UTG introduces the first-ever 36-color Illumination Enhancing (IE) reticle scope. Using a 30mm True Strength (TS) scope tube with the red/green dual illumination option, this multi-color option offers almost every hue of the color spectrum. The IE scope offers the EZ TAP user-friendly illumination control with two soft ergonomic control buttons, zero lockable/resettable windage/elevation adjustment, side wheel parallax adjustment, Emerald coated lenses for maximum light transmission, as well as bonus flip-open lens caps and medium profile Picatinny/Weaver rings. www.leapers.com

Leica: Leica reintroduces the Trinovid, a premium-level optic at an entry-level price. Available in 8x42 and 10x42 configurations, the magnesium housing makes the Trinovid extremely lightweight, while remaining durable enough to handle rugged conditions and unpredictable weather thanks to the rubber armoring. Features include a stainless steel center hinge and large eye cups with four stops. Even though the Trinovids are affordable, the premium manufacturing and optical quality are evident. For example, you won’t find any plastic parts on the watertight Trinovid, and the roof prism system features P40 phase correction coating. www.leica-sportoptics.com

Luna Optics: Spotlighting deer is illegal in many states, yet improvements in night binoculars allow hunters to legally scout at night. A prime example is the Luna LN-PB3 premium binocular. It’s compact and lightweight and has a full 20-degree field of view, which is crucial in quickly identifying the surroundings and locating feeding deer. Its 3X image magnification strikes an ideal balance of light transmission and bringing the image closer to your eyes as well as allowing wider field of view than more powerful models. www.lunaoptics.com

Meopta: The MeoPro 3-9x42 has all the elements of an effective whitetail deer scope. The low-profile silhouette of this versatile optic is the perfect match for just about any hunting situation. Proprietary MB5501 ion assisted lens multi-coatings deliver maximum brightness and edge-to-edge clarity in challenging conditions, while the MeoShield coating protects exposed lens surfaces from abrasion. MeoTrackII posi-click finger-adjustable turrets offer precise ¼-MOA increments for easy sight-in, and the 3-9x42 range of magnification is ideal for all-around performance. www.meopta.cz

Meprolight: The Mepro M21 requires no batteries — the reticle is always on and adjusts automatically to ambient light conditions. The M21 has no delicate moving parts or circuitry inside the sight, so it can withstand heavy abuse, moisture and humidity. The M21 can be removed and reinstalled and will keep its zero so that a hunter can always pick up his rifle with absolute confidence that his optic will be ready, operational and zeroed. It’s ideal for use on lever-action rifles for hunting whitetails in the brush, over the receiver or in a forward “scout” position on bolt-action rifles for versatility or dangerous game hunting, or with modern semi-auto hunting rifles for various types of game. The M21 is available with a bull’s-eye reticle, triangle reticle, open X reticle, and both 4.3 MOA and 5.5 MOA dot reticles. For situations requiring magnification, the Meprolight MX3 magnifier can be instantly mounted behind the M21. www.themakogroup.com

Nightforce Optics: The Nightforce 2.5-10x32 NXS Compact, made in the USA, measures just 12 inches in length and weighs only 19 ounces, resulting in a low-profile, streamlined instrument that will not overwhelm a hunting rifle. A large exit pupil makes for fast target acquisition, and its wide field of view (44 feet at 100 yards at 2.5X) makes it extremely quick to point and aim. Nightforce offers a variety of reticles and one option for the Nightforce 2.5-10x32 NXS Compact is the Velocity 600, a unique reticle tailored to the muzzle velocity and ballistic profile of the shooter’s rifle; when properly sighted-in it eliminates guessing at holdover and complicated calculations to ranges up to 600 yards. Reticle illumination is standard. www.nightforceoptics.com

Nikon: The next generation Nikon PROSTAFF 5 Laser Rangefinder delivers fast and accurate readings with its aggressive styling and palm-sized ergonomics — the ideal balance of size and power. Boasting a 10 percent reduction in size from its predecessors, the 6x21 multicoated optical system boasts a huge ocular lens and optimized viewfinder display to provide the wide field of view needed for immediate subject acquisition and maximum ranging speed. With one-tenth yard ranging precision out to 600 yards, the long eye relief of 18.3mm makes it great for use with or without eyeglasses. An easy-to-read LCD feature adds additional contrast as needed for ranging in virtually any light conditions. The waterproof/fog proof construction makes it the perfect companion for any hunt. www.nikonhunting.com

Sightmark: The Sightmark 4-16x44 Triple Duty Riflescope is equipped with an illuminated red/green mil-dot reticle, which aids in range estimation and shooting in low light conditions. The 4-16x44 features a one-piece 30mm tube that increases light transmission and field of view. O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, the 4-16x44 is both fog proof and water resistant. This precision scope features a parallax adjustment knob and oversized, locking windage and elevation turrets with 1/8-inch MOA clicks, providing an additional level of accuracy and ensuring the scope stays zeroed. www.sightmark.com


Steiner: Deer hunters can be smart like a fox with the new line of Predator Xtreme riflescopes that combine German engineering and U.S. construction. Available in three models, 2.5-10x42mm, 3-12x56mm and 4-16x50mm, the new Predator Xtreme line offers precision-ground lenses with Steiner’s unique CAT (Color Adjusted Transmission) technology. These new riflescopes are waterproof, shockproof and fog proof. They feature rugged 30 mm tubes with ¼-MOA adjustments for both windage and elevation. Ergonomically designed, large turret knobs and a power ring with deep knurling make removal and adjustments almost effortless. Additionally, The Predator Xtreme’s interchangeable dials can be reset to “0” once the scope is sighted-in. www.steiner-binoculars.com

Swarovski: “It’s one of our most requested products ever,” said one Swarovski spokesman about the new EL Range binocular. Hunters want bright optics that maximize low light conditions, and this tool accomplishes this plus shows how far away that big buck is standing. Along with high image quality and excellent light transmission values, the optic has the widest field of view in its class and will focus as close as 5.5 yards. A non-slip focusing wheel allows easy operation while you’re wearing gloves, and the individually adjustable winged eyecups are made from hypoallergenic material. The binos are waterproof and dirt and dust repellent, and they won’t fog. The unique shape of the optic allows for a wrap-around grip, and they are shockproof and rubber reinforced for durability. www.swarovskioptik.com

Trijicon: Crossbow hunters need special optics, and Trijicon has “raised the bolt” for all sights, providing an excellent ranging and sighting system in a single package. The 3x24mm objective ACOG Crossbow Optic is modeled after the legendary ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight) and includes features such as fully multi-coated optics, precise adjustments, Tritium-and fiber-optic illuminated reticle, and unmatched, battle-proven durability. In addition, the Crossbow Optic contains a specially designed rangefinding reticle calibrated for crossbow ballistics. The ACOG Crossbow Reticle utilizes the proprietary Bad River Outdoors Ranging System that allows in-scope ranging on deer and elk. www.trijicon.com

Vanguard: Spirit XF offers excellent image quality, weather resistance and user-friendly features in a price-friendly package. Phased-coated BaK4 roof prisms and fully multi-coated lenses provide edge-to-edge clarity, high-contrast images and true-to-life color reproduction. One hundred percent waterproof and fog proof, Spirit XF is made to take on the outdoors and challenging weather with textured rubber armor for a secure grip and shock resistance. Compact and lightweight, Spirit XF has a unique open bridge body design so it’s lightweight, compact and comfortable to hold even if you’ve been in a tree all day. www.vanguardworld.com open-bridge body design• Multiple-p• Long eye-

Vortex: The new Crossfire II has been completely redesigned for 2012, offering clearer optics, a tougher build, better eye relief and a more forgiving eye box — without increasing the price. A broad spectrum of popular magnification ranges, objective diameters and reticle options ensure the series lends itself to a variety of applications. Fully multicoated lenses bring in light for optimal performance at dawn and dusk, while quality internal components ensure adjustments are accurate, track true and hold zero. One-piece aircraft-grade aluminum tubes anodized with a matte black finish prevent game-spooking reflections and promote overall durability. O-ring sealed and nitrogen-purged, the Crossfire II is engineered for a lifetime of waterproof and fog proof performance. www.vortexoptics.com

Zeiss: The new super-bright Victory HT Riflescope line with a focus on the 3-12x56 model is the hot new item from Zeiss. The Victory HT 30mm riflescope achieves 95 percent light passage thanks to high transmission glass and enhanced multi-layer coatings. This glass is great, yet the #60 reticle set the Zeiss line apart. The illuminated reticle is non-magnifying in the second focal plane for minimal target coverage and is activated by pulling out the knob on the left side of the scope. The illuminated dot is as easily visible in bright sunlight as in low light conditions, thanks to its versatile adjustability. If the illumination is untouched for four hours, the illumination automatically shuts off to preserve battery life. www.zeiss.com