Iíve got one as most know so you can search my username for many past comments, pics, etc or feel free to ask anything about it here. I guess I never really gave a thorough review. I guess I can give some comments on it overall.
Since real or perceived, about the only chink in the armor of this scope in my opinion is durability so letís get that out of the way first. My 300 RUM at only 7lbs 10 oz without scope likely kicks as hard or harder than your 338 will, depending upon its weight, so itís a good test. First, if youíre talking about the SFP version, I only know of a couple of those that have failed after many years and what must be many thousands sold so I think itís got a pretty solid track record; Scott would know more.
Itís the FFP that has some more proving to do. I broke my first two, both from the ďfirst batchĒ that apparently had a flaw. They say theyíve fixed the flaw and my replacement from the second batch has held up just fine so far, though I donít have a lot of rounds through it yet. Over the next few weeks Iíll be doing a lot more shooting so Iíll have a better idea then.
The silence on this issue over the last few months is very good news I believe. The second batch+ has been out a long time now and we arenít hearing about failures while in this timeframe the first batch seemed to be dropping like flies. I think the chances are very good the issue is solved. The only one from the second batch Iíve heard of breaking was Marcís and it had a low serial number so we werenít sure if it was a legit 2nd batch scope or not. Regardless, I havenít heard of any of the newly made scopes failing. And now that theyíre in stock, it is a comfort to know it does break they can replace it quickly. I really think the scopes are fine, but I wonít put my personal guarantee on it. Itís going to take time for the scar on their reputation to fade away.
Beyond that, I simply couldnít be happier with the scope. Over the years of doing this and using many different scopes Iíve learned through experience what I like and donít like and what I want and donít want from a scope for what I do. This scope goes right down the list of what I want from a scope damn near perfectly. Itís really hard to think of anything Iíd change about it if I could. I suppose it could be a bit lighter. A tad more eye relief would be welcome for some though I find itís plenty for me. Other than that, itís pretty much perfect as far as Iím concerned.
The magnification range makes it do everything so well. The FOV on 3X is nearly twice that of the 4.5X Leupold I used to use which makes it so much better when in the thick stuff. The extra magnification of 18X along with the glass quality makes it a huge step up from the typical 14-16X scope on the top end. Youíll see more detail and have a better view than you will with most 20X+ scopes. The glass is just that sharp and brilliant. It will spoil you. It makes looking through ďregular scopesĒ really disappointing. Iíve never had the pleasure using a S&B or USO so Iíve never seen anything come close optically (except for other IORs, of course ;) ).
The reticle is just perfect for big game/gong hunting. It is so fast and easy to pick up, even at low power. It stands out and is very visible in low light--the best I've had at that, the way it stays so black it just stands out against the target so well. The Ĺ Mil hashes are just right for holding over/under or wind precisely without being too cluttered.
The FFP makes me wonder why Iíd ever buy another SFP scope of this type ever again. I can hold wind at any power I feel like, and itís always right. When ďwalk around huntingĒ I can dial up my 300 yd dope and know the first hash is on a 400, the 1 Mil mark is on at 500, etc, for example so if something happens fast I can just hold and shoot without having to mess with anything, even if itís on low power. No chance of being on the wrong power at the wrong time.
The new knobs are very nice. The 100 click elevation knob is simply beautiful in action. With 210ís I can dial up to 1400+ yds on the first turn of the knob when many scopes would be on their 4th already. Since I only shoot that far on very special occasions, this means the chance of getting mixed up on what turn itís on, being off by a turn, etc, in normal use is basically zero.
The knobsí click value matching the reticle is the only way to go as well. I can hold or dial the wind, whichever I feel like doing at the time, using the same data. I can hold or dial elevation. I can dial elevation for one range and hold for another range using the data from a single dropchart. I can dial or hold corrections, using the same numbersÖ. Itís really the only way to fly IMHO.
So there are some thoughts on it for you to ponder. Of course a big part of why I like it so much is how it lines up feature-wise with exactly what I want. Not everybody wants those same things (though many do). Many here donít walk around with their rifles much when hunting, donít hunt in thick stuff, etc, and have no need for the low power flexibility. Some donít like FFP, etc, and thatís fine. But for my uses as a scope that does pretty much everything exceedingly well, itís hard to beat. There are no scopes anywhere near its price range I would trade it for.
Oh, compared with the 30mm tube by 50mm objective in low light, I compared it extensively to my 4-14X50 IOR and naturally, the 50mm objective will give a slightly brighter view. However, my 4-14 did not have an illuminated reticle and the thin SFP reticle would get lost when the 3-18's reticle could still clearly be seen. So even though the view was a little brighter, the 3-18 was actually useful later though that may have changed if the 4-14 had been illuminated. Though the 4-14X50 does give a slightly brighter view, in my opinion the 3-18 beats it in every other way.