Do it all scope?
This article is written with the preparation for King of 1 mile and King of 2mile competition in mind evaluating scope features for serious competition shooters.
We have seen immense improvements in optics over the last 10 years, it only takes a moment to compare scope options made 10 years ago and those being made now, not only in terms of optical quality but also in terms of what is available magnification wise, durability, reticles, illuminations, mounts, the sheer amount of options are quite incredible. Where do you start? Let’s find out together using the backdrop of competition shooting as our testing ground.
At Ko1M and Ko2M in France, it was the ideal playground, we saw a beautiful line up of long range scopes most of which today surpass over 30mil/100MOA of adjustment some in fewer rotations than others. Conventional scopes are now showing up with upto 160MOA of vertical travel while others have gone as far as to create dedicated setups for Extreme distances such as the March Genesis 6-60×56 with external adjustments. I believe competitions are a great venue to see what works and how people use them because competitions make us use those tools in the most effective ways possible. You will see different competitors use the same tool differently but this is where products are studied and feedback gathered for improvements. Competitors ask questions and smart manufacturers listen and respond with their offerings.
I would say most scopes can do the mile today some much better than others. The one mile however is a great stepping stone because it makes shooters review details in their kit they may have not pondered seriously about in other disciplines. More over the ticking time, the coordination with their spotter and the limited amount of rounds on target ensure that these competitions test your skills, nerves, readiness and communication skills. Now that we’ve been shooting the mile and further just over 3 years as well as attending international matches, it has given us an idea of what’s out there, how it is being used and what we believe can help shooters. The beauty is that if you choose wisely, you may use your scope setup to shoot further than a mile. The mile is basically a feeder competition to the 2 mile competitions for those that want to commit the time, energy, passion, money and travel to make it to this level where every single detail counts and it will take you outside your comfort zone.
Today however I would like to discuss a scope which can serve most long range shooters. As much as it is difficult to do so, there are a few key elements which makes this one a potential do it all scope. Is it the only one with these features? No. March has some fine craftsmen and product people and have consistently turn out some of the best optics out there. For a boutique manufacturer, they have an impressive lineup of scope models and I’m lucky enough to own a few of them over the years which gave me a good perspective. Besides that, I maintain a very similar almost identical view and features which is why I don’t change my competition scopes very easily. When I sit behind each one of them, i don’t have to think, they all work more or less the same. That’s gold.
I have had this scope just over a year and had played with it first time at Bisley some 3 years ago and I realised it had great potential. The other reason why I believe these scopes have a solid place in the market is that they are highly employable to other disciplines and can easily allow you to shoot much further. I have covered in detail the methods required to shoot past 1 mile in this article.
When you sit behind the gun at 2000meters, the only thing you can trust in is the scope turrets and the ammo you have carefully put together and your spotter, everything else is an educated guess, some call it art others call it voodoo.
In this category, I look at a few features:
View Full Specs of the March 5-42×56
FMA-TR1 reticle below at 3200meters
Rifle Scope USEABILITY
Most readers and competitors I speak to would like to have an optic they can employ in a multitude of scenarios if possible while especially if they shell out considerable money on a new one. Since I switched to an Quick Detach Eratac mount, I have swapped this scope on a few setups in a very efficient and fast way.
After I did test the mount return to zero, I had no issues doing it. I now have this optic for over a year, so I’ve spent sometime behind it and taken it to competitions which for me is the ultimate test.
I also have its bigger brother the March Genesis 6-60×56 with 400MOA of elevation however that is a more ELR specialized option that is better suited to bigger ELR rifles than do it all setups that you may want to shoot in any situation. This scope can go more things in more circumstances.
Below you can see it mounted on the ERATAC quick detach adjustable mount 0-70MOA. ERATAC Also make an 80-150MOA mount which is a real 2 miles plus mount.
How much elevation do you really need and how many do you want to keep track of per turn? The Genesis below has 50MOA per turn. the 5-42×56 above has 25MOA per turn. The latter has 5.5 revolutions to reach its 138MOA of travel. Below the Desert tech with a heavy 34″ barrel in 37XC ELR (1.25″ at the shank and 1″ at the muzzle with a WARNER TOOL COMPANY MOAB Break.
Below you can see the difference between a dedicated ELR scope and a universal setup that can also do ELR. The Genesis feels a little heavy when used with the 6.5 barrel shown below in digital camo (work by www.solidsolutiondesigns.com)
ELR Scope Trials
This scope was going to be used with my favorite extreme long range cartridges like the David Tubb 33XC, 2mile cartridge 37XC, the powder hungry 416 Barrett and the 50BMG McMillan BROS 50BMG Bench rest rifle all of which I now possess after years pursuing.
When you put a scope on one of these rifles, you want to be sure that the scope will NOT let you down. Each round you shoot is the cost of a pizza, you have travelled long hours to be here and shoot competition, you’ve put time away from work and family, you want it to work at all costs and give you the best possible experience. You want it to be simple to work with in high pressure situations. It needs to be designed by shooters for shooters. Below are pictures I’ve taken as I prepared for king of 2 mile with some of the items sent to me by ARC Ballistics for my reloading as well as TPM Balle in France for the Custom made Dies based on my fired cases. Olivier did a great job!
Below you can see both scopes mounted for 600 meter load development test on this 300 Norma Mag shooting 250 ATips at 2970ft/s into just 2 inches at 600m. The high magnification is perfect for load development where we want to have a very FINE hold so as not to induce any hold error when aligning our reticle on the 2 inch paster.
King of 1 Mile in France
Below me and Rob Aquila we were waiting our turn at King of 1 Mile in France in pouring rain. We did very well on day 1 qualifying for the finals at 9th position from 110 shooters with just one miss on the 1380m target.
Your confidence in your kit goes a long way when you NEVER shot on that range previously and all you have is 2 readings one from your Kestrel elite and another from your strelok pro and you compare the data before you head to the firing line. IT must work.
You sit down, close your eyes, prepare for the 9 minute run across 4 targets spread out on a range you’re seeing first time, you wind down the mag and you walk up to those small white specs with your eyes, then with your scope and in half a turn, crank up to 25x.
You chamber your first round and patiently await the Go ahead from the French referee. You look at your dope written next to your hand, you dial in your elevation and base windage estimation, you breathe, you wait and when your spotter says Green, your send that very finely made ammo downrange. Once you hear the plate rattle, you sigh, run the bolt, and you’re doing that again, one shot every 20 seconds whatever the wind is doing- You just have to keep going. What a thrill!!! This is the fun of ELR shooting in competition. You keep going without looking at the watch and somewhere down the line you may check what time you’re on. Hopefully you’ve made enough first and 2nd round hit to have made it with the big boys.
Those very exciting moments before you head to the firing line – everything is new, unknown and exciting. On the right, all the kit we carried for a week overseas, you have to carry equipment that will not let you down when you have made so much effort – remember the cost of one competition abroad will already exceed the cost of your scope so choose the best you can afford.
What did I like about the March 5-42×56 High Master?
- Easy to turn the magnification in half turn, this enables me to go from search mode to engaging target mode in a split second and I switch mag as I look for the next target.
- Eye relief is good which allows me to reacquire my target fast after I engage enabling me to spot the trace and impact downrange preferably before my spotter rings his call.
- 25 MOA per turn means I am good till 1050meters before I go to the second turn. 12 MOA on windage in half turn means I won’t need to worry about going more than 1/2 turn on windage unless I’m shooting past 2000m in a 10mph wind.
- I only went up one and a half turn for this qualifying string to 1380m as I needed about 39MOA.
- The FMA MT reticle in first focal plain is easy to work with for holds, it is not busy so it allows me to see the impacts easily. for ELR I don’t want busy Christmas-tree like reticles.
- 138MOA means I can shoot this 300NM to 2500m without holding over.
- I coupled it with the Eratac adjustable mount so as to be able to maximize the travel. remember never click to the last click on the turret, stay about 5 MOA short at the top and at the bottom end.
- Wide angle view and High Master glass allow better chance of spotting the trace as the bullet heads down from it’s maximum ordinate towards the target.
- Simple and reliable with lockable turrets for travel which means I lock the turrets after I zeroed the gun. I was only .5MOA high from my Sicily Zero. The rifle put 3 zeroing shots in a Bench rest like group giving me a very happy start before the comp even began.’
- I love the way the scope windage reads the scale, you can’t get confused with these.
What would I change?
Only a few things only.
- I would include a turret indicator of sorts that is easily visible.
- Enlarge the scope windage turret outwards to be easier to read behind heavy tactical mounts which may obscure the fine stadia. I added a scope magnifying glass to help.
- Include a half turn zero stop on windage so that the scope turret only turns half turn OR provides a tactical clicks when you are on the zero this way you never get lost.
I shall be using this scope at Extreme Shot Italia III next during 4-8 October 2023.