IOR 10x42 Tactical Riflescope (with side focus)

4 November 2002
By Scott Powers

Stores seem to be flooded of late with riflescopes vying for the Tactical Market. Many of these offerings are pure junk. Mere department store hunting scopes with the addition of a mil-dot reticle. You can pretty much be assured that if you paid less than $200 for it, it is NOT a tactical scope in the traditional sense of the word. At best, it's a toy. It may have mil-dots. It may even have target turrets... and it may need to go back to the factory once or twice before you are satisfied that it is still junk and you are stuck with it. In the end, "the statement" still remains true and you can always count on it where optics are concerned; "you get what you pay for". There is no short cut to good glass, repeatable glass, hard-core glass capable of taking a beating in the field and still hold zero. If you ever wondered why you do not see certain rifle scopes reviewed here at Sniper Country, it's in part because we seldom consider anything not truly field tuff worthy of review. I happen to love my 1990s era Bushnell 3-9x40 Trophy. It's on my favorite lightweight .308 hunting rifle. I would buy another in a heartbeat for that purpose. Hunting here in Eastern PA doesn't amount to much more than wasting the day away in a tree stand and shooting your deer, if you happened to set up properly and do your "homework", at little more than 40 yards or so. You cannot even see much beyond that in the local woods! There is certainly a market for functional glass at a low price. Without these products many hunters would not be able to afford to hunt. So while I never slam a scope below a certain level of shall we say, quality or price, I would not put it on my other rifle. The one meant to, with total precision, reach out and touch something at ranges that make you short of breath if you walk them.

So, now you know how I feel about cheap "sniper scopes". They do not exist because generally, they are NOT real tactical scopes. Many are nothing more than a revamped hunting scope with some bells and whistles. When I think of a high end, reliable, long-range rifle scope I think of certain Leupold's, a few IOR's, the old Bausch & Lomb Tactical, one or two Swarovski's, and a few other brands that all run somewhere in the stratosphere in price, but a price well worth it. While I have become partial to variables lately (for law enforcement they are tuff to beat) there is still a market for a rock-solid, fixed power, tactical scope that can dish it out and keep on taking it. I was not certain the new IOR 10x42 Tactical with Side Focus and Magnum lock would fall into this category. It's certainly expensive and for this kind of money, I want magic. I spent a month of weekends being not too kind to it, swapping it around on rifles. Shooting for fun and to get a feel for it. Dialing the thing from one end to another to check consistency. About the only thing I have not done is throwing it at a wall. It does have to go back to Valdada and I'd rather not explain how it got all beat to hell. But looking at the thing, it was tempting; it appears able to handle it. Finally, after having my fun it was time to test. Then I did something stupid. But we will get to that later.

Let's start with the thing most buyers seem to consider first. Retail price. The IOR 10x42 Tactical with Side Focus retails for a whopping $895. To be sure, that's a good bit less than an Mk4 M3 ($1140), and a bit more than a Vari-X III, LR M1 ($730 avg.). It's a lot less than some of the big name European riflescopes, by about $700! A bit of shopping around will net you the IOR scope in the high $700s however, so price wise, it is to be considered a mid-range investment. Still, that's hardly a small chunk of change. Worth it? Depends on what you want. Walter Mitty types - playing at sniping - may get by with the $200 converted hunting scope until they actually need it to perform in the field. Police, security and anyone with a serious interest in precision shooting at long range, will more willing break the $300 mark for glass they can rely on, and it is those individuals who will be interested to learn that the IOR 10x42 Tactical does seem to function as advertised.

Now on to the Details

Features. Starting off with the construction, this 30mm scope is typical IOR except for the length. Back in the day, IOR scopes always seemed a tad on the long side. Not the new IOR 10x42 Tactical. This scope measures a paltry 13", a full half of an inch less than my Leupold Vari-X III, Long Range M3. Weight is a reasonable 20 ounces without sacrificing strength. The finish is a very dull matt black with excellent anti-reflective properties. The objective is 42mm and the ocular measures a full 38mm. No trying to squint through a small lens here! Eye relief is 3.5" (about 90mm) and there is never a feeling of having the scope come back to bite you in recoil. You can mount it far enough forward and still achieve an excellent field of view with a healthy comfort zone between you and the ocular. The glass, made by Schott of Germany, is excellent. Very crisp image almost to the very edge. Very bright. At 100 yards I used the following target: a circle consisting of a 1/16" thick line, measuring 1" in diameter. The thin line stood out well and the .010" thick lines of the background grid were visible. Low light ability was as expected for a daylight scope in this price range. Objects were discernable at range till well after dusk.

The scope comes equipped with a third turret for eliminating parallax (called a side focus turret by the company), very similar to the Leupold Mk4 series. First you set the scope up for your eye by adjusting the diopter. Turn the ocular bell until you get a clean crisp image of the reticle. Now once you are at the range, simply turn the side turret until the target comes into clear focus. As in all side focus scopes, it is best to test this feature on a known distance range. Once the scope is adjusted for your eye, you can then use the parallax turret for fine focus from less than 25 yards to infinity although the literature claims 40 yards to infinity.

Elevation and windage adjustment are via 1/4 moa turrets, which are housed under a set of removable caps. Each revolution gives you 15 minutes of angle in 1/4 minute increments. There is a total of 100 moa of internal adjustment -- more than enough to reach 1000 yards and beyond. You should not need a tapered base with the IOR 10x42 Tactical. However, if you use one, expect to shoot beyond 1300 yards if you can see that far! Setting zero is typical of all IOR and nearly all European scopes. It has been described in other articles on this site so I will forego repeating myself. It's fairly easy and extremely precise, so long as you do not let the turret rotate as you reposition the outer drum.

I zeroed the scope to the test rifle, a Remington 700P, firing Federal GM2, 175 grain HPBT Match. I normally try not to comment about myself specifically when writing these articles. They are about the product, not me. But this time I am going to let you in on a little view of my life. Writing this review was going to be "interesting" I knew, because I had recently recovered from a motorcycle racing accident (the aforementioned "Something Stupid" comment). The short of it was that a broken heel and a damaged shoulder had kept me from completing this review for six weeks. The foot has healed but for some reason, the left shoulder, which was not actually broken, still causes me some pain. Being left handed I pretty much knew this test was going to be akin to Bart Simpson grabbing the electrified donut each and every time I pulled the trigger. Bang - DOH! Bang - DOH! Bang - DOOOOOOH! I only tell you this because my groups, which you may notice in the photos, are not my best. However, no blame can be laid on the scope. It really performed!

The first test group was fired to confirm zero. It measured .503" center to center. About average for this rifle. I then dialed up 2 moa and a fired a five-shot group at two hundred yards in wind, making no adjustment for windage during the string. Wind was right to left and gusting. This group measured 1.264" at 200 yards, or about .63 moa. Not my best, but average. By now there was some pain flaring (Young Bart grabbing that frigging donut again) in the shoulder and just these 10 rounds were starting to have effect. The group shot high and left, consistent with the fact that I was shooting uphill in wind. I next fired a repeatability test group at 100 yards. Typical drill. Fire a round, raise the elevation, fire another round, go right, fire, go down the same amount as you went up, fire again, dial left back the same amount, and fire. All the while using the same point of aim.

The IOR 10x42 Tactical scope performed nearly flawlessly, which I had not expected. Every scope I have tested, no matter the brand, always seems to show some sort of minor error, whether by my own mistakes or by design. I chose 4 moa as my box since it fit within an 8.5x11 inch piece of computer paper.

After firing the series, the results can speak for themselves:

A perfect box! The groups themselves were average, due mostly to my inability to fire without cringing at the anticipated recoil. Yeah, I am getting old guys. I used to grunt through this stuff. But each time I squeezed the trigger my brain would yelp. The smallest group was decent at .492" but the average over-all group size totaled .7785" due in part to the worst offender, an embarrassing 1.082". The scope is more than capable, as is my rifle. I on the other hand... well, let us not talk of this again. Finally, I cranked the turrets to both extremes of their range and then reset them to zero and fired one final group at 200 yards, this time only dialing up 1.25 moa. Wind was still as before. The group measured 1.255" or .62 moa. That's pretty consistent! If you compare it to the first 200-yard group you will see that the difference was .014". Now I am starting to wish I could afford to keep this thing. Ah well.

The IOR 10x42 Tactical comes with a 3-inch sun shade, which screws into the objective. Lens caps are provided which attach to one another via a heavy-duty rubber lanyard. In use, you will either want to zip-tie the lanyard to the scope or replace these with Flip-up lens caps. But for simple protection of the lens, these are more than sufficient.

If you are looking for a fixed magnification riflescope for your tactical rig, consider the IOR 10x42 Tactical. For the price, you are entering the "mid-range" of the upper scale of tactical glass. This scope should be more than sufficient for your long-range precision needs. Available with IOR's proprietary MP-8 Reticle or Modified Mil-dot reticle. Both function like the standard mil-dot, using the same spacing. The MP-8 has the added versatility of half moa ticks between the 1 moa increments, and 10 moa ticks on the vertical line for ranging large or wide targets.

Features include
  • Photo engraved tactical reticle
  • T3 lens coating system, developed by Carl Zeiss, consisting of full multicoating and anti-reflection treatment eliminating glare and maximizing light transmission
  • Mil Spec steel housing, "O" ring sealed and nitrogen filled
  • Waterproof
  • Fog proof
  • Shockproof
  • High resolution optic system
  • Magnum lock support system on reticle
  • Side focus from 40m to infinity
  • Optical glass by Schott Glasswerk, Germany
Technical Data
Magnification :
Objective diameter :
Field of view at 100 yards :
12.2 feet
Exit pupil diameter :
Eye relief :
3.5 inches (92mm)
Diopter adjustment :
-4 to +4 DPT
Reticle adjustment range :
100 MOA
Click adjustment :
1/4 MOA
Tube diameter :
Length :
13 inches
Weight :
20 oz

For further information, contact:

Valdada-IOR Optics
P.O. Box 773122
Steamboat Springs
Colorado, 80477

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