Last year I set out on a mission to sell off my SFP MOA scopes and re-equip all my tactical style bolt guns with scopes that were FFP and MIl/Mil. This was a slow (and expensive) process but one which was a lot of fun and because I bought (and tried even more) some good and some great scopes, I sure learned a lot.
Other than S&B, of which I have been a fan for a long time ( I use 12-50 SFP Pmii’s on my F-Open and T/TR F-Class rifles) I didn’t really set out to buy any particular brand of scopes but, as it happens, I now have FFP S&B PMii’s, Vortex Razor II HD’s and the newest NF ATACR scopes but what I didn’t have was a Kahles and it seemed somehow that it would be ideal if I could have at least one each of the three most popular scopes in the US PRS game.
Like most shooters who appreciate good equipment, I knew that the Kahles had a reputation as being a premium optic. I hadn’t had an opportunity to handle or look through one but, fortunately for me, my good friend Omer at Precision Optics in Quesnel BC is an authorized Kahles dealer and was able to let me play with the scope before purchase and, having satisfied myself that indeed this was a piece of equipment that I wanted on one of my rifles, gave me a very good deal when it came time to part with the cash.
The scope I chose was the 624i with left hand windage – Kahles bills itself as a riflescope pioneer and the idea of a scope with left hand windage strikes me as pretty pioneering. All the technical details about this scope can be found on the Kahles website here: http://www.kahles.at/us/products/
In keeping with the way that Europeans seem to package up and present their offering the Kahles comes in a fairly plain box that while a little better than S+B doesn’t begin to compare to the way Vortex of NF present their top end scopes.
Packaging is just that I suppose and after all what we are buying is not the box but what is inside the box which brings me to …
Huuummmm, well what you see is what you get and what you don’t see are any scope covers or a sunshade of any sort! You do get a ‘scope coat’ but in the field that is of limited use – a bit disappointing really when one considers that (in Canada) there is very little change out of C$4000 when all is said and done.
Moving on, the overall feel of the scope is of quality – the finish is beautiful and the way the turrets and mag ring moves just exuded quality. Really, this feels like the riflescope equivalent of a Rolex watch.
What of course sets this scope apart from the usual is that – as you can clearly see in the photo above – the windage dial is on the left side of the 34mm tube and the parallax adjustment is on the elevation turret. This arrangement is clearly designed for a right handed shooter so that she or he does not have to break firing position and while I could see mistakes being made early on ( and, in fact, a number of times I did make a windage adjustment when wanting to fine tune parallax ) it is one of those things that if you practice or train enough you will get used to.
The mag range of this scope is – as name suggests – is 6-24x and the scope is of course FFP. While I’d have liked a bit more top end magnification, the 24x is enough for pretty much any application other than maybe F-Class and the glass is so clear that the image quality at all settings is simply excellent and very ‘S+B- ish’ which isn’t so surprising really as, after all, one would expect a premier Austrian offering to closely resemble a premier German offering.
The turrets have a scalloped contour and the elevation turret has a little red button on the top of which pops up to indicate second rev which is handy and works just like the one on the Vortex Razor II which pops out of the side. The Kahles turrets really do feel good and, it is worth saying again, a real sense of quality permeates this scope.
Silly as though it sounds when describing a 34mm tubed scope that is gigantic by the standards of 10 years ago the reality is that this Kahles is really quite svelte and certainly won’t feel over large on any heavy barreled rifle. To illustrate the point, I perched my Kahles on top of the undisputed heavyweight of scopes the Vortex HD Gen II 4.5-27×56 – they say a picture is worth a thousand words
Rounding out the features of the Kahles 624i are features that nearly all high-end (and many tier two or three) scopes now have as standard – zero-stop and illumination. In the case of the Kahles both work perfectly and are easy to use – so long, of course, as the user remembers that the illumination dial is where one usually finds the windage control !
As good as this scope is I’ve saved its best feature for last and that is the reticle. I had thought that the EBR2-C reticle found on the Vortex Razor HD Gen II was my favorite until I used the reticle that is available with the Kahles – the SKMR3.
Simply put, while reticle choice has a LOT to do with personal preference this reticle has everything I want in a reticle and more. Your mileage may vary but I suspect that part of the reason for the Kahles popularity is right here with the SKMR 3.
So, how does the Kahles stack up in the filed against the Vortex Razor II and the NF ATACR ?
Compared to the Razor while the Kahles gives up a bit of magnification it is only 24x vs. 27 x and the glass in the Kahles is really very special ( of course the Razor is absolutely no slouch in the glass department either ). Turrets feel nicer – to me – in the Kahles and the SKMR3 is the only reticle that beats EBR2-C. Zero-stop in the Razor can’t be beat though and, yes I hate to go on about tis again, I can see times when the lack of a sunshade will make some shots harder to make with the Kahles.
While in the US the Razor is significantly cheaper than the Kahles the same isn’t true in Canada where Vortex Canada charge customers (and offer no veteran or LEO pricing) pretty much the same for the Razor II as Kahles dealers charge for the Kahles 624i so – at least in Canada – there is no price advantage. Vortex warranty sells a lot of scopes but the Kahles limited lifetime is also a pretty strong backup if anything does go wrong.
When comparing the Kahles to my NF ATACR, the Kahles is giving up a lot in the magnification range 24x vs. the 35x top end on my ATACR F1 7-35×56 and the only areas where the Kahles is clearly superior to the ATACR is in price (the 7-35 in Canada is around C$5K after tax) and in reticle choice where the SKMR 3 is significantly superior to the reticle choices available in the NF.
Overall, the Kahles is clearly a top of the line riflescope and it performed flawlessly in the field. Excellent glass, very nice turrets ( when you get used to the placement of the windage ! ) and a real quality feel is combined with a superb reticle all at a not unreasonable price point.