December 18, 2017
By David Draper
From ride-sharing services to retail shopping hacks, the way the world does business is being disrupted by small, savvy start-ups. Once dominated by a few big names, the optics industry also is entering a brave new world as companies pop up on the market each year. Here are four new riflescopes — all with friendly price tags — from optics makers you may not have heard of.
Tract Turion T-Plex 3-9x40
Founded by a couple of optics-industry vets, Tract turns the traditional business model on its head with a direct-to-consumer website. By eliminating all the middlemen, the company can build feature-laden, high-quality optics at value-driven prices. The Turion features Schott HT glass that transmits maximum amounts of light through the optical system for clean, clear, bright imaging. Its aluminum 1-inch tube is argon purged and O-ring sealed for weatherproof performance. On the downside, a lengthy ocular housing and oversize focus ring limits mounting adjustment to just two inches. $424; tractoptics.com
Weight: 1 lb.
Pros: Extended eye-relief, T-Plex reticle
Vanguard Endeavor RS 3-9x40
Vanguard is not new to the optics world — it has been making tripods and binos for years — but the Endeavor series is the company's initial venture into the riflescope market. For a street price well under $300 bucks, hunters get the benefit of extra-low-dispersion glass
that's multicoated throughout the optical system. This results in a level of brightness and clarity that punches above its price tag, although edge-to-edge sharpness is lacking. The 1-inch aluminum tube is
durable, with an oversized zoom ring that, unfortunately, adds several unnecessary ounces. $210; vanguardworld.us
Weight: 15.75 oz.
Pros: Bright optics, weatherproof
Cons: fuzzy around the edges
GPO Passion 3x 3-9x40
This scope's European-grade glass isn't surprising, considering it comes from a company called German Precision Optics, but what is surprising is the quality of the scope given its entry-level price. For about three Benjamins hunters get a solid scope built on a 1-inch, machined-aluminum tube. The optics, with proprietary coatings and multi-laminated lenses, produced adequate clarity during our low-light tests, though brightness suffered at the top of the zoom range. Another surprise for an inexpensive starter optic is a full, no-fault warranty for life. $300; gpo-usa.com
Weight: 14.5 oz.
Pros: Price, lifetime warranty, generous eye relief
Cons: Stiff zoom adjustment
Styrka S5 SH-BDC 3-9x40
You're going to pay a couple hundred more dollars for this scope, but the return on investment might be well worth it. What you get for those extra bucks is a serviceable side focus wheel that adjusts parallax from 10 yards to infinity and a ballistic drop reticle, albeit set on the second focal plane. Still, that versatility gives budget-conscious hunters aiming solutions at extended ranges up to 600 yards. Inside the one-piece aluminum tube, fully multicoated optics are bright and clear, delivering decent low-light visibility at dawn and dusk. $480; styrkastrong.com
Weight: 1 lb., 2 oz.
Pros: BDC reticle, adjustable parallax
Cons: Heavy, limited mounting range
The Essentials Gear Box.
Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.