Hensoldt fully multi-coats lenses with Carl Zeissís well respected T* anti-reflective coatings. These are applied to apochromatic fluorite glass lenses. This type of lens is superior at correcting chromatic and spherical aberrations. It aligns the three main color spectrums and eliminates multiple light focal points. This greatly limits color fringing. The result is not only a superior image, but also lighter weight compared to traditional lenses ground from lead glass.
When put to work on the range, the Hensoldt proved to be a top-tier optic. Fortier says mechanical performance was flawless and optical performance was superb.
To check the Hensoldtís performance, I mounted it onto Sako TRG-22 and then a Tikka Tactical using a set of Warne 34mm rings. I began by zeroing it at 100 yards and boxing it. Zeroing was easily accomplished and the Hensoldt passed the box test perfectly. Adjustments were dead on and repeatable.
The Hensoldtís turrets are well suited for field use, providing 12 mils of adjustment per full revolution. The first focal plane reticle is also very user friendly.
Pulling out my rifleís data book, I next moved to my shoot tower and engaged resetting steel targets from 200 to 600 yards. This was easily accomplished. During this portion of testing the Hensoldt acted like the thoroughbred it is.
The magnification ring adjusted smoothly, the parallax knob was easy to adjust and the turrets provided crisp corrections. Performance was monotonous. You dialed the adjustments in and the Sako put a hole in what you were aiming at.
So I next moved to testing the Hensoldtís optical performance. In bright light I noted the color rendition to be very accurate but perhaps slightly on the warm side. I noticed no barrel, pincushion or rolling distortion.
Resolution, all the way through the magnification range, was excellent at 100 yards. Peering at an old barn, I could see the finest details of the peeling paint and worn wood beneath. Next I moved to observing at long distances. Unlimbering an old Wild coincidental artillery rangefinder, I ranged a distant rock pile. It came in at 1300 meters.
Next, I compared the Hensoldt to a Nightforce 3.5-15x50mm. With both scopes rested I went back and forth between the two trying to discern the finest details of the rocks on the distant pile. While the Nightforce fared very well, it came out on the short end of the stick when going head to head with the Hensoldt at identical magnification settings. Optical image quality of the Hensoldt proved to be extremely good, from the center to almost, but not quite, the very edge.
I finished testing by using the Hensoldt in low light and complete darkness. Low light performance was also very good. Here the 56mm objective showed its worth and allowed targets to be successfully engaged long after they were no longer visible with the naked eye. During low light testing I also gained an appreciation for the illuminated reticle. On too many scopes, the reticle intensity is far too bright, even on the lowest setting. Many wash the image out, negating any positive benefit they may afford. I was able to adjust the Hensoldt, on the other hand, to fit the conditions perfectly. When darkness meant I could no longer see through the scope, I fitted it with a PVS-14 night vision monocular. Normally, I am not a big fan of using a PVS-14 in this manner, as its performance is dramatically degraded. However, results with the Hensoldt were better than expected with the magnification set on 4X.
The reticleís intensity could also be easily adjusted to the proper level for use with the night vision device. However, a dedicated objective-mounted night vision device specifically made for this application is the way to go.
My thoughts? This is an impressive scope built like a brick. Optically it possesses a bright image with excellent color rendition and extremely good resolution. German optics have an impressive reputation for a reason, they kick butt. Negatives? Yes there are two. One is minor. I noted a small amount of tunneling from 4X to about 4.4X. The other concerns the price, which is a jaw-dropping $3,499.
Not only is Hensoldtís 4-16x56mm a true military grade tactical scope, but itís priced in the finest Teutonic tradition. While I could probably justify paying such a sum if my chosen vocation was as a professional marksman, most casual shooters cannot. However this does not take away from the simple fact that this is an outstanding optic. It certainly is among, and possibly is, the finest I have ever had the pleasure of using. It does everything exceptionally well.
The other optic I tested was Carl Zeiss Optronicís Spotter 60 spotting scope. Initially one would think that this optic was fitted with a 60mm objective, due to its name. However, the 60 refers to highest magnification, 60X. A porro prism design, this compact spotting scope is actually fitted with a 72mm objective lens. A variable power eyepiece is fitted which zooms from 20-60X. To protect it from knocks and blows, the lightweight body is encased in protective rubber armor.
Also tested was this 20-60 x 72mm spotting scope called the Spotter 60. Itís not intended for birding; itís a specialized unit developed specifically for snipers.
The fat 72mm objective lens generates an exit pupil running from 3.6 to 1.2mm. Field of view runs from 160.7 to 62.3 feet at 1000 meters. Overall length is 13.1 inches, itís 3.9 inches wide and 6.4 inches tall. Weight comes in at a slightly hefty 56.4 ounces.
Although at first glance the Spotter 60 looks similar in profile to some other spotting scopes out there, it easily stands out from the crowd. How? Well, not only does it have a rangefinding reticle, but itís located in the first focal plane. This allows it to be used at any magnification range.
The few other spotting scopes out there that offer rangefinding reticles do so using a fixed magnification (usually 30X) eyepiece. Not only does the Spotter 60 offer a mil reticle in the first focal plane, but it even offers illumination for use in low light. Located at the rear of the scope body, just above the eyepiece is a rheostat. This operates identically to the rheostat mounted on the 4-16x56mm.
The reticle incorporated in the design consists of L-shaped stadia. These are of equal length and delineate 10 mils each. A small fine crosshair is in the center of the field of view. The L-shaped stadia allows a spotter to range targets and quickly provide corrections to a sniper without the reticle obscuring any of his field of view.
The Spotter 60ís body has multiple hard mounting points. This allows short sections of 1913 rails to be added to allow tactical accessories easily to be mounted.
The body of the optic also features multiple mounting points for short sections of Mil Std 1913 rails. These are provided both on the side and top of the optic. By adding rail sections, a spotter can then mount mission essential accessories directly to his spotting scope. These can include, but are not limited to, night vision devices, IR laser/illuminator or even a white light. Sling attachment points are also provided on each side of the optic.
Optically the Spotter 60 sports Carl Zeissís well respected T* lens coatings on all lens surfaces. Rather than traditional lead glass lenses, fluorite crystal super achromatic lenses are utilized. These have several advantages. They correct for spherical aberration and correct the visible light spectrum. In addition they also align the infrared color spectrum with the visible spectrum. Plus the folded path design provides a much longer focal length, over 18 inches, which further improves performance.
Rotate the rheostat knob to activate the reticle and adjust its intensity. Push in to turn it off. When you turn it on again, it returns to its last intensity setting.
Performance of the Spotter 60 is extremely good. I noticed no barrel, pincushion or rolling distortion. Color rendition was excellent, but again just a touch on the warm side. Resolution was extremely good. To test the resolution I decided to run the Spotter 60 head to head with another high end spotting scope.
Since the 4-16x56mm had pummeled a domestic scope I decided it best to pit the Spotter 60 against a top European spotter. So I rummaged around and found an Optolyth MiniB/GA 15-45x80mm collapsible spotting scope. So it was two very differently designed German spotting scopes intended for field use. I put them to work at 100 and 1300 meters on a sunny day and they immediately began putting the knuckles to each other.
The Spotter 60 zooms from 20X up to 60X. Thanks to the reticle being in the front focal plane, it can be used for ranging and corrections at any magnification.
It proved to be a real down and dirty brawl with the Optolyth standing toe to toe with the much higher priced Hensoldt. Both these optics are very impressive and well suited for their intended functions. In the end though, I was able to discern just a tiny bit more fine detail at 1300 meters, on the same magnification setting, with the Spotter 60. I will say the Optolyth is an impressive spotting scope, look for a full review in the future.
Low light performance of the Spotter 60 was also very good. During this portion of testing it was used both with and without a PVS-14. The illuminated reticle also performed very well. The reticle itself is well designed and easy to use. At the same time, it does not clutter up the field of view like some more complex designs. All in all the Spotter60 is a fantastic piece of kit.
Gripes? If I was going to complain, the only things I could touch on would be the weight and the price. It is a little on the porky side, but I can deal with that. The price, though, is an out of this world $4,999. Itís not very often you come across a day optic that makes a PVS-14 look cheap.
However, in this regard the Spotter 60 mocked my inexpensive3rd Generation U.S. night vision device. If you can afford the price, God bless you, itís a fantastic optical instrument. I however will be carefully insuring the package when I ship it back though.
Fortier found that optical performance of the Spotter 60 was excellent with accurate color rendition, excellent resolution and extremely good low light performance.
Final thoughts? There is a reason the German Army fields Hensoldt sniper scopes. Both of these optical devices utilize all of the most advanced optical technologies currently available to designers. They are precision optical instruments made to endure the harshest of environments, the modern battlefield. If you have need of a superb military grade optic, and can afford the price of admission, consider Hensoldt. After all, they have been building optics for military snipers since the dawn of modern sniping itself.
Hensoldt products can be purchased at Hunt Distribution Company (HuDisCo).
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