Optics of Choice: SHOT Show’s Best Options

Binocs, scopes, and sights – we zeroed in on the best optics for 2018 while touring the SHOT Show floor.

Zeiss Victory RF Binocular

With technology and materials increasing in quality, brands set a higher standard for optical excellence each year. After meeting with brands at this year’s SHOT show, we can tell 2018 is going to be a good year for optics.

From timeless, classic pieces to high-end laser rangefinders with integrated ballistic computers, our sights targeted a range of products. And a quality 3-by-9 scope made for a hot topic too.

Here are this year’s best optics as seen from the SHOT Show.

Zeiss Victory RF Binocular

Zeiss Victory RF Binocular

At first glance, the Victory RF from Zeiss looks like a normal pair of high-end binoculars. But they are far from it.

The binoculars include an internal laser rangefinder and integrated real-time ballistics computer. But it’s hard to tell without protrusions from the binoculars’ straight barrels. The compact build begins with a lightweight magnesium housing and ends with heavy-duty rubberized finishes.

Of the light entering the barrels, 85 percent transmits to the eye. Internally, the laser rangefinder and computer go to work. Once the user ranges the target, the onboard sensors take temperature, pressure, and incline/decline angles into account. With the Bluetooth-synced Zeiss app, an appropriate countermeasure for a solution is displayed. Altogether, this is simply unheard of.

The Victory RF comes in 8-by-42, 10-by-42, 8-by-54, and 10-by-54 and starts at $3,250.

Nikon Spur

Nikon Spur

The Spur enters that market as part of Nikon’s first ever red-dot sight series. This aptly-named reflex sight is perfect for shotgun mounting to hunt gobbling turkeys. The lightweight construction is shockproof and holds a waterproof rating of IPX7.

Nikon optical engineers built the Spur with a 3 MOA red dot and proprietary “TRUCOLOR” glass that reduces the blue haze common in reflex sights. The window is 27 mm by 16 mm and features 1x magnification, as effective as a spring turkey shotgun sight. Nikon includes a Picatinny rail mount for quick installation.

The Nikon Spur hits shelves in early April and will run $220.

Vortex Kaibab HD

Vortex Kaibab HD

The new 18-by-56 Kaibab binoculars are built specifically for the western spot and stalk hunter. Patience and far-ranging quality optics are key for this style of hunt, and Vortex delivers on its end with the Kaibab. The 56-mm objective lens diameter allows for substantial light transmission for the dawn and dusk. The 18x zoom ensures the capability to optically scour the landscape.

The Kaibab weighs 2.7 pounds and is intended for use with a tripod. To accommodate your tripod, Vortex equips the Kaibab with a quick-release tripod adapter. The Kaibab HD falls directly under the top Razor category in the Vortex line and will run $1,300.

Leupold VX-Freedom Scopes

Leopold VX-Freedom Scopes

The fifth-generation, family-owned company based in Beaverton, Ore., introduces a new series of rifle scopes. The VX-Freedom series takes 70 years of Leupold manufacturing to create a newly designed value series that, from our look, won’t compromise quality. Initially available in 1.5- to 4-by-20, 2- to 7-by-33, 3- to 9-by-40, 3- to 9-by-50, 4- to 12-by-40, expect releases throughout the year.

The latest VX-Freedom replaces the VX-1 and VX-2. A second focal plane, beefed-up magnification rings, and the proprietary Twilight Light Management System are category-wide standards. The series supports muzzleloader, rimfire, and centerfire rifle options. VX-Freedom scopes are available now and range from $235–390.

Swarovski CL Companion

Swarovski CL Companion

The Austrian company built in 1949 brings forth a small yet powerful new product for 2018. The CL Companion binocular is a compact offering (17.2 ounces) with a wide field of view. Whether you are a birder or a hunter who appreciates top optics and lightweight options, you’ll enjoy the razor-sharp contrast and 90 percent light transmission.

The two magnification options are 8-by-30 and 10-by-30, coming in green or anthracite. Plus, three case options sport Northern Lights, Urban Jungle, and Wild Nature designs; the latter of the three would be ideal for adventures in the woods. Depending on magnification, the CL Companion retails for $1,343 or $1,398.

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