Steiner Military 3-15X50 Rifle Scope Review
The NF turret does provide 10 mRAD per revolution with the turret being marked to 5 mRAD, after which the numbers begin decreasing. This allows the possibility of a shooter dialing on 6 mRAD of right adjustment, but a simple glance at the turret will look like 4 mRAD of left adjustment, or vice versa.
(Rear view of the Nightforce windage turret)
Either windage adjustment system works; I just prefer the dummy proof Steiner. Lastly, reticle selection can be a very personal preference and the reticles in either brand are excellent.
One final feature that I really appreciate on the Steiner scope is the location of the elevation and windage reference points. Steiner has built the scope with a slightly raised portion at the base of the adjustment turrets that moves the reference marking away from the scope tube about a half inch. This extra distance is especially beneficial in that a shooter doesn’t have to come out of the shooting position as far to verify the adjustment that has been dialed on to the scope, or to make another adjustment. As a right handed shooter, in order to see the adjustment reference points, I typically have to move my head off of the stock a significant distance to see over and around the rear scope ring on most other scope brands. Steiner has solved this little problem by moving that reference marking away from the scope tube, so now a shooter doesn’t have to come out of position as much or at all. Again, this is a small feature but one that shows a very well thought out product for all types of shooting.
This scope is meant for military and heavy use operations. The user manual states that “Steiner Military Scopes were especially developed in close cooperation with international weaponry experts for the tough requirements of military missions around the world.” I expected that the scope would be able to withstand a fair amount of abuse and, coming from a military background, I know what soldiers can do to equipment, so I decided to conduct a mini “torture test” on this scope. The testing consisted of a “dunk,” “freeze,” “toss,” and “drop” tests. The scope was removed from the rifle for all testing except for the drop test.
The literature provided with the scope stated that the scope is “fully waterproof and fogproof” so I wanted to verify that this specimen was as such. This test was simple; I filled my home bathtub with cold water and dropped the scope into it, literally, from about 3 feet. This wasn’t part of the drop test, but hey, the scope is meant for “tough requirements” and I wouldn’t consider this exactly tough anyway. I removed the lens covers but the scope rings remained attached. The scope soaked in the bathtub for 1.5 hours after which it was removed, dried and inspected. There was no water leakage into the scope, the illumination feature still worked as it should, and all adjustments had the same feel as before. The Steiner 3-15X50 passed the tactical bathtub dunk test!
(Steiner 3-15X50 Military in the bathtub for a soak)
Immediately after drying off the exterior of the scope and verifying everything still worked, the scope went into the freezer, on top of some Klondike bars for the remainder of the night. The total duration of freezer time was just over 12 hours. When the scope was removed, the magnification ring turned freely although with a little more resistance than prior to being frozen. The ocular adjustment for the reticle was very stiff to move at first, but once it turned, it also did so with slightly more resistance than prior to being frozen. I next checked the parallax adjustment which also turned freely but again, with slightly more resistance than before. The reticle illumination worked as normal as did the elevation and windage adjustments. There was no binding whatsoever due to being frozen. Lastly, I checked for internal fogging, of which there was none present. I was very pleased that the scope had no mechanical or operational problems due to being frozen, as I didn’t expect there to be any.
(Steiner 3-15X50 Military chilling with some Klondike bars)
Before continuing with the next round of tests, I had a major competition to attend in late September so I elected to hold off on further testing. During the match, my rifle was subjected to some extreme rain and mud during the entire first day. The scope held up just fine and all adjustments were perfect. It wasn’t until the last weekend of September that I had the time to complete the rest of the evaluation. The testing day had temperature of 50oF, and winds were 10 mph gusting to 15 mph and also switching between 5 and 7 o’clock.
My procedure for the toss test was a lot more involved than the previous testing. I first verified that my zero was good and then removed the scope completely from the scope base rail on the action. The scope was then reattached and the rifle fired at the same target and point of aim for three rounds. I did not use a torque wrench to measure an exact load applied to the rail clamp screws on the rings, but instead just tightened the rings as much the same as I could on each trial. This procedure was performed three times for a total of nine rounds. My intent was to establish the accuracy of the rifle/scope after the scope had been removed and reattached, so that I had a baseline to determine any variation in point of impact change during the toss test that would be attributable to removal of the scope only. After the baseline accuracy of 1.5 MOA was established, which was mostly a horizontal spread, the scope was removed and thrown by hand out to the dirt and weed covered field. The scope traveled a total of 24 yards where it impacted the earth with a definite thump. When I retrieved the scope, dirt was stuck to the parallax knob and around the elevation turret which had turned upward by 0.1 mRAD. I adjusted the scope back to zero, remounted it to the rifle, and fired three more rounds at the same target and point of aim. The bullet impacts were at the center of the target. The scope held zero and was within the accuracy of the mounting system. I then adjusted the scope to the limits of the elevation turret as well as the left and right limits to verify that nothing internally had been affected. The scope came away unscathed from this little test.
The rifle/scope exhibited 1.5 MOA accuracy for removal and reattachment of the scope. The rifle is normally capable of 0.3 MOA when I am shooting well. It was during the previous testing that I found out how badly my trigger system had rusted during the competition the previous weekend although I spent considerable time trying to dry everything off. My trigger pull weight was fluctuating from very heavy to almost normal and my safety was no longer able to move, it was rusted in the “fire” position. I did my absolute best to maintain consistency but I’m sure the fluctuating pull weight affected my accuracy to some extent. Regardless, I’m happy with the results of the toss test.
The “drop” test began by verifying my 100 yard zero on a different target. I then held the rifle vertically with the butt of the rifle about four feet off the ground and then dropped the rifle onto the ground and allowed it to fall however gravity decided to bring it to a rest. This test is partially a test of the rifle as well as test of the scope but considering the top quality components used in the rifle and tight bedding compound, I was certain of the rifles capability to maintain zero as long as the scope held up. The zero was the same as before the drop test for the first iteration and shifted 0.2mRad to the left on the second trial. Again, I’m happy with the results and the shift in point of impact could be attributable to the rifle itself. At this point, I am very confident that this scope can take a bit of harsh treatment and any shift in point of impact will most likely be very minimal, if any at all.
During the last competition, I had the opportunity to show this scope to several other competitors. While showing some of the features of this scope, I ran the elevation turret to the furthest limits of travel to show the innovative sliding scale. These demonstrations were not done after the match but usually within a couple minutes before I was to shoot a stage. One competitor commented on me having confidence in my equipment to make a major adjustment to the scope right before shooting a stage. My performance at the match was not hindered in the least.
The testing that I conducted on this scope is directly tied to failure of other brands of scopes under similar conditions. I’ve had a few other scopes that were priced at $2000.00 and above fail one or more of these tests so I wanted to conduct as thorough an evaluation as I could come up with on the Steiner offering. Nothing is more frustrating than spending the kind of money that high end optics go for and finding out that the scope fails a simple test such as those conducted here.
This scope has an optical prescription that provides an outstanding sight picture. The clarity is very good, contrast is excellent, and the scope is very easy to get behind. This scope performs as advertised; waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof. Steiner has built an absolutely incredible riflescope with well thought out features combined into a package that is elegant in appearance, refined in adjustments, and robust in construction. Give one a try if you are looking for a top tier optic. I’m confident you’ll be pleased with your purchase.
Nicholas Gebhardt has been an active hunter primarily pursuing mule deer, antelope, coyotes and prairie dogs since he was old enough to legally hunt. Nicholas is a precision rifle competitor and uses the knowledge he gains from competition shooting to aid in his ethical taking of game in the field under most any condition. He enjoys custom rifles and is usually in some form or another of either planning or building the next one. Nicholas earned his B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana and is a Captain in the Montana National Guard.
Join the discussion of this article HERE at the Article Discussion Forum.
<Previous | Home