IWA Outdoors Classics, a fair where all major companies associated with hunting, shooting and outdoors equipment exhibit their products, is traditionally scheduled every year at the beginning of March. This year, almost half of our team (Optics-trade) visited the fair for business arrangements and to be on track with all the latest novelties in this field. The fair was held for four days (8. 3.–11. 3.), allowing us to thoroughly tour the optics, rifles and mount manufacturers’ booths. 2019 is not a year of major breakthroughs in the optical industry. Still, several interesting products have been introduced. In this article, we will focus on the novelties from the fields of optics and mounts, having the content arranged in paragraphs for clarity.
In the field of binoculars, a few new interesting products have been introduced. Meopta presented their new Optika HD series of binoculars, available in two configurations – 8x42 and 10x42. They will carry an interesting price tag of around 250 € once they hit the market. They are packed with interesting features such as a magnesium chassis and all kinds of coatings, from dielectric to hydrophobic ones. Sightron expanded the SII Blue Sky series with an 8x42 and a 10x42 HD model, which means that Sightron is aiming for the hunting market. A mixture of an open bridge configuration, dielectric coatings, and ED glass for 300 € is more than a reasonable deal.
Swarovski flaunted the CL Companion Nomad at their booth. Covered in quality leather, it attracted the attention of many passers-by. A great buy for someone who wants a one-of-a-kind binocular, great both ergonomically and optically. Delta Optical introduced the new Titanium HD series of binoculars, consisting of two models, 8x42 and 10x42. Delta has been a strong player in the field of entry-level binoculars with their Forest II which offers great optics and an amazing field of view for just 150 €. Now, they are trying to gain dominance at a 500 € price point. With Titanium HD, they might achieve that – these binoculars boast great optical characteristics, an open bridge configuration and – just like Forest II – a superb field of view.
Vortex brought their Fury 5000 HD 10x42 binocular to the fair. It is an upgraded version of Fury which was shown to the public 2 years ago. Its most outstanding feature is the range of detection – it can measure and display distance up to 5000 yards which equals 4570 m. The best thing is that Vortex won’t raise the price for the second generation, and the VIP warranty still comes with it as standard. GPO also leapt into the world of rangefinding optics – in the field of binoculars, they unveiled their RangeGuide 2800 10x50, equipped with a magnesium housing. The maximum range of detection GPO promises is 2800 meters.
Leica continues to be one of the leading manufacturers of laser rangefinding monoculars. Their plan for 2019 was to implement Bluetooth Connectivity into the Rangemaster series. As a result, the CRF Rangemaster 2800.com was ‘born’. With an application that can be downloaded on Android and iOS smartphones, the user can manipulate with the device settings with ease. We are glad to see Leica complying with the latest technologies in the field of optics. GPO presented two new series of rangefinding monoculars – for hunting (Rangetracker 1800) and for golf (Flagmaster 1800). Both display distances to 1800 yards (1650 meters). Rangetracker is equipped with the Equivalent Horizontal Range function, while Flagmaster has many useful features for golf (Hyperscan mode, Dual Pinseeker Technology, Slope Correction, Legal Indicator).
In the field of riflescopes, many of the optics manufacturers have expanded the existing series by adding a model or two. A few companies, however, introduced a whole new series. The first one is Meopta which launched Optika 6. This is a large series with many available models, divided into two subseries based on the type of use – hunting and shooting. The emphasis in on the number of available features. The user can choose from FFP & SFP configuration, MOA & MIL models, Illuminated & non-illuminated reticles etc. Meopta also introduced Dichroic Reticle Technology which is based on a unique coating that enhances contrast and thus improves aiming abilities in all lighting conditions. Optika 6 models can be ordered with this technology, making the series even more interesting. We’ve been told that the expected prices are from 450 to 850 €, based on the model and chosen features.
Leica launched Fortis 6, a series that comprises three 6x zoom factor hunting riflescopes with a wide field of view. As regards the price, they are placed between Visus and Magnus. Zero Compromise Optic announced the release of two of their models in 2019, 4–20x50 and 5–27x56.
Noblex presented brand-new, NZ6 Inception and Vector riflescopes, both made in Japan. Other companies expanded the already existing series. Delta Optical added the 4–24x50 model to the Titanium HD series. This high-magnification, Japan made riflescope is great for hunters who wish to perform long-range shots.
Stryker HD was upgraded with new turrets that feature both Zero Stop and a Locking function. The SFP model in MIL version now has a 0.5 cm / 100 m click, which is a great addition for precision shooting.
March’s Genesis now has a ‘smaller brother’ with a 4–40x magnification range. It is shorter, lighter, and features 300 MOA or 89 MIL of elevation. DD Optics introduced a 5–30x56 FFP model, called Nachtfalke DDMP. Based on the features that it offers (34 mm tube, FFP reticle, exposed tactical turrets), it will compete against Delta Optical’s Stryker with the same magnification range.
Revic had their extraordinary PMR 428 riflescope exhibited, this year also in MIL/MIL version.
Sightron introduced the S-TAC 4–20x50 FFP model, a true tactical riflescope with Zero Stop and exposed turrets. Primary Arms categorized their riflescopes in four different tiers and added the Gold series to their offer. Nightforce introduced the popular ATACR 7–35x56 riflescope in the SFP configuration. Sightmark presented an affordable, wide-angle riflescope with a 10x zoom factor, Citadel 1–10x24, available for a price of around 430 €.
Red Dot Sights
Aimpoint introduced a brand-new, enclosed pistol red dot sight at Shot Show, called ACRO P-1. It is designed for the professional market, and because Aimpoint likes to keep the products for the professional and civilian market offered separately, they introduced a civilian version at IWA 2019 called ACRO C-1. The form factor is the same, but there are some minor differences in software (C-1 has fewer NVD illumination settings) and durability (P-1 can be submerged to a greater depth and withstand lower and higher temperatures).
Kahles had their Helia red dot exhibited. This open reflex red dot sight boasts a big window, four illumination levels and an auto-turn off function. Holosun had many prototypes at their booth – some of them were equipped with a yellow-gold illumination colour which they claim least people have problems seeing. Two new titanium reflex red dot sights of theirs were also at their booth – HE508T and 509T. Furthermore, they introduced the ‘R’ models which feature a rotary illumination knob instead of standard buttons. Shield introduced the second generation of the SIS sight, called SIS 2. The window is now 10 % larger for better target acquisition.
Night Vision and Thermal Optics
There are more night vision and thermal optics producers with each passing year. Pulsar is still one of the most influential companies in this field. This year, as always, their booth was one of the most crowded ones. Two products were in the centre of attention. The first one is Thermion, a thermal riflescope with the looks of a standard riflescope – it is equipped with a 30mm tube and has turret-like compartments. Nobody has done anything similar before – Pulsar is revolutionizing the market yet again.
The second novelty of theirs is called Axion. This is a successor to the Quantum Lite models. It is much more compact and ergonomic, plus it is equipped with better software and features a 12-μm pixel pitch. Axion is divided into two subseries, standard and key. The price is 1300–2200 €, based on the model.
Liemke’s booth also attracted lots of attention. They had their new Keiler thermal monoculars exhibited, available with different objective lenses.
Kaps, a renowned German optics manufacturer, also leapt into the world of night vision optics. They unveiled the NSG 3x42 HD, a made-in-Germany, analog night vision monocular, equipped with the Laserluchs LA 808 – 150 II illuminator.
Dipol now has a digital night vision clip-on, called D400 DNS. The optical quality is on a high level, and Dipol promises a price under 2000 €. ATN had two new BinoX variants at their booth. 4K 4–16x is a night vision device while 4T 4–16x is a thermal imaging device. Bering Optics introduced Hogster, a thermal clip-on attachment which is going to compete against Pulsar Core. Flir brought their Scion monoculars, available with a refresh rate of 9 Hz or 60 Hz.
At IWA 2019, I stopped at several mount manufacturers booths to check out their new mounting solutions. Dinpal was one of the biggest surprises in this field – they presented their brand-new, appealing titanium mounts. The rings are only 0.3 mm thick – when mounted, you get an impression that the riflescope is floating above the rifle. They are not only incredibly subtle but also very durable. The surfaces are precisely machined, and the rings are 100 % in contact with the scope. Last but not least, their mounts are one of the lightest on the market.
Spuhr has introduced their first-ever hunting mounts – the new line is incredibly elegant with precisely machined edges. For me, these are probably one of the most appealing hunting mounts currently on the market.
Contessa, on the other hand, had new tactical mounts at the booth, available in one-piece and two-piece versions. Some of them are equipped with a foldable bubble level.
Dentler also went tactical by introducing one-piece durable monoblocks for tactical rifles. They use the same system for mounting – you need a Dentler base, either for a specific rifle or for a Picatinny rail, on which you then mount the new tactical monoblock. The mount is durable (there are four screws on top and on the bottom part), and the rings have a huge clamping surface. Recknagel came up with a new pivot mount for Pulsar and Yukon’s night vision and thermal devices.
As a team, we were all under the same impression at IWA 2019 – the future of sports optics is digital and thermal. With each passing year, there are more optics manufacturers, which means that the existing ones must do their best to remain competitive. Many achieve that by listening to their customers’ wishes. Furthermore, they try to offer as many features as they can for an affordable price.