Several years ago I was one of the first to test the then new Leupold VariX3 LR Tactical Scope. As said then it was just about perfect. Price was, and still is an outstanding, value. The scope worked very well for police work but frankly it could have been better with a change to a glass etched reticle and round mil-dots. The original had the wire reticle, with the football shaped mil-dots and in my opinion was not as strong, or as easy to range with as the glass/round dot, versions.
The original scope also had the reticle in the rear focal plane. To some of you, that will mean nothing. Others will say "The reticle stays the same size at all power settings" and the ones who use the equipment for a living will understand that a rear focal plane reticle only allows the mil-dot spacing to be accurate at one power setting. What that means is with a rear focal plane reticle range estimation has to be on one power setting only or new formulas have to be used. A sniper has enough to worry about without additional computations under stress. I want a front focal plane reticle in all my variable power scopes so range estimation and Mil-dot leads are the same formulas at all power settings. Keep everything as simple as possible. With a front focal plane reticle the reticle appears to grow in size as the power is increased.
In today's world it seems most are content replicating mouse traps - not working on improving the original design. The Mil-dot reticle is no exception to this. Most companies have versions of the Mil-dot but few have tried to improve it. Leupold would not even consider changing the LR Tactical scopes to a front focal plane glass etched reticle, let alone talking about improving the Mil-dot reticle. When you sell them about as fast as you can make them why bother with improvements?
Premier Reticle Company was a leader in the reticle business before most of us were alive. They saw a need for a new reticle and for an improved LR Tactical scope. They first improved the Mil-dot reticle design by adding a .5 Mil spacing line between the dots. The spacing line is .15Mil in length. The dots are .20Mil in diameter. They still have 5 mils from center in all directions broken down into .5mil spacing but have added additional 5mil lines (2Mils long) in the heavier post reticle areas. The posts are 1Mil thick. They made the reticle out of etched glass instead of wire and installed it in the front focal plane of the VariX3 LR Tactical. The new reticle allows users to estimate down to .10Mil for ranging. This new reticle is called the "Second Generation Mil-dot" and is currently available in several Leupold tactical and the 12x-40x power spotting scopes. It will also soon be available in the Schmidt and Bender PII series riflescope. All of the scopes are only available from Premier Reticle Company. Do not contact Leupold or Schmidt and Bender for this option.
The author was given the opportunity to test this new reticle. Three scopes were sent for testing. One was the VariX3 LR M3 Tactical, another the MK4 M1 16x and the last one was the Golden Ring 12x-40x Spotting scope. All were new from Leupold, but remanufactured by Premier Reticle Company. The scopes were all bright and clear.
The 3.5-10 was mounted on a GA Precision modified M40A1 rifle, in 308 Winchester. This rifle has the new Sub-minute Solutions stock. It is frankly a tack driver and capable of telling a shooter how good his other equipment and his abilities truly are.
The 16x was mounted on a Nor-Cal Precision Extreme Range rifle. It's a highly modified Remington 700 in 338 Ultra Caliber. I would call it a tack driver but pile driver would be closer to its capabilities. This rifle really shoots well and hits out past 1500 yards are not pushing the rifle or caliber's capabilities.
The Spotting scope replaced my old 25x Leupold in my rucksack.
The Spotting scope was first on the agenda. I used it in a one weeklong basic class to call shots and estimate ranges for students. Only way to put it is, man this is a great scope. Glass is crystal clear. The addition of the power and adjustability make this really shine. The reticle allowed estimates to 900 meters to be made quickly and with greater accuracy than I have ever had before. It was easy to estimate within ten yards at distances of up to 900 meters. I used the scope in my next class and allowed the students to use it. They picked up range estimation far faster and with more accuracy also. After several weeks of using this scope I sold my 25x Leupold and paid for this new one. It now rides in the rucksack on every outing. If you are in the market for a spotting scope I can't say enough good about this one. You can purchase this as a scope only or, as I did, in the tri-pod and case package. The package includes the best tri-pod I have ever seen and a fine case made by London Bridge that allows you to carry the whole package on your rucksack or over the shoulder.
Next I handed the GA Precision to an advanced student and let him work with it for a day. He loved the 3.5-10 and found the reticle far superior to the regular Mil-dot version. I thought I would have to fight him to regain possession at the end of the day. Eventually I regained control of the weapon and started my own testing. In short Premier should be given some kind of award for the new design. I found it so far superior to all the other designs I have used, I instantly called several other manufactures and told them they should call Premier Reticle right away and purchase Generation Two Reticle for their lines of scopes. The reticle is that good. Range estimation is faster and with far great accuracy. Mil-holds are faster and with greater accuracy also. I can find no fault with it. Putting the glass-etched reticle in the front focal plane was a great move. It has turned a good scope into a great scope. I predict this scope will become a standard in the sniper community like the MK4 has.
Lastly I tested the 16 MK4 with the Second Generation Mil-dot. For all the reasons mentioned before it really shinned on the 338 Ultra. Shooting 300 Grain SMK's at 2750fps it was like a laser beam at distances that a few years ago folks would have said "B.S." to. Yes you can hit at 1500 yards with less than a 50BMG and do it well. Nor-Cal adds the Tactical Vent System to this rifle so you can have a rifle that shoots that far and does not maul you when you pull the trigger. It turned out to be a great combo. For the guys thinking about which big caliber to go with, the 338 Ultra brass is about one forth the cost of 338 Lapua brass and performs at very close to the same level. My experience is the Lapua holds a 50fps edge over the Ultra. No matter if you put this scope on a 300, 338 or 50BMG, this scope has all the adjustment and eye relief you will need for extreme range shooting.