Superior 2.5-15x50 Riflescope Review
I was recently contacted by an optics manufacturer to potentially review a new line of riflescopes. The manufacturer's name is Superior Lens Company, Ltd. and they are based out of China. Looking at their website, I found they make an assortment of optics such as spotting scopes, telescopes, microscope lenses and AR styled riflescopes. After doing some research, I found they make riflescopes, binoculars, and spotting scopes for several major brands for the hunting industry. After a couple of emails back and forth with Superior, they sent me the specifications for their riflescopes and I was impressed to see their 6x Series of riflescopes having a 6:1 zoom ratio. This 6x zoom ration is a growing feature that is typically found on higher cost riflescopes and it peaked my interests into what type of quality and value may be offered with the Superior line of scopes. At the time of this review, Superior is offering three riflescopes in this series; 1-6x24, 2.5-15x50 and 4.5-30x50. For the purposes of this review, I requested them to send me their 2.5-15x50 riflescope. I felt this rifle scope would give me a good idea on the quality of this product line along with providing a power range that would be appealing to many hunters or marksmen. MSRP on this riflescope is $499, but I'm not sure what the actual market price will be since it is not available in stores yet. If you are interested in potentially purchasing one of these riflescopes, contact Superior Lens at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During my reviews I like to compare my results to the manufacturer's claims where possible so the following text in colored italics was taken directly from the Superior Optics (name at the top of the spec sheet) and gives the key features and specifications for this scope. The , and are my way to keep up with details that I have covered in this review with either photos, commentary or both.
The scope arrived packaged as shown below. I lived overseas for nearly 4 years in South Korea and I have always been impressed at how old cardboard boxes could be quickly repurposed to make a custom box. This is clearly the case for this box. This detail doesn't really matter when related to the quality of the scope, but I thought it was worth emphasizing that this scope is a sample version and potentially any scope purchased may come directly from China (at least until they have a US distributor).
Since the scope I received for review was a sample, so the box had no exterior markings.
The scope was packaged inside the box as shown. There was nothing else in the box but the scope. I was told that the production models will come with an instruction manual, battery and lens caps. Months after I completed this review, Superior finalized their manual and were able to send me their Instruction Manual for this N-Series Riflescope.
I always like to give my first impressions when I take a product out of the box and have my first close look. My impression on the Superior riflescope was very positive. The scope had some weight which I tend to associate with glass and metal, and it had an overall solid feel. The finish on the scope was perfect. The elevation and windage adjustment knobs had positive audible clicks. The power adjustment ring, fast focus eyepiece and parallax adjustment ring all had a smooth firm feel when making adjustments. After taking a quick look through the optics, I could see they were bright and clear. Again, I had a very positive impression. These photos below are very high resolution and will give you a good look at the exterior craftsmanship and clicking on them or any other photo in my reviews will typically bring up a high resolution photo.
The scope measured 13.69 inches in length with the fast focus eyepiece adjusted all the way inside the housing and 14.13" with the eyepiece adjusted to the maximum length. The mounting length (distance between eyepiece and objective for attaching rings) measured about 5.6" and should give you a good footprint for mounting the scope.
One feature I find interesting is the non-traditional taper on the eyepiece and objective areas. The eyepiece taper is very subtle, but the two sloped taper on the objective end really stands out and catches the eye.
The riflescope weighed in at 1.43 pounds (22.9 ounces). This was 1.5 ounces over the specification weight, but nothing dramatic. This weight is comparable to other scopes of this zoom range and objective lens diameter.
The more I studied the scope, the more I like the unique lines of this riflescope. For your average hunter or marksman, this scope having target style turrets and a parallax adjustment ring will be welcomed features. The scope body is machined from 6061-T6 aluminum alloy and comes with a black anodized finish.
The objective end of the scope has a 50mm lens with a 57.5mm outside diameter. The lens surface looked perfect and there was clearly some type of coating that could be seen if you looked at the lens from a slight angle. Superior states that the lenses are fully multi coated to ensure the maximum possible light transmission. They state that this scope gives you 90% light transmission which is a claim similar to other high end riflescopes on the market. I don't have any way to accurately measure this claim but I can say the scope seemed very bright when compared to my Bushnell Elite and Zeiss Conquest scopes.
The length of the objective end that tapers down to the tube diameter is about 119mm (4.69"). The tube diameter measured 30mm and the length of tube on the front end of the scope was about 62mm.
The next key features on this riflescope are the controls located in the center (saddle) portion of the scope. This scope includes target style turret caps, a parallax adjustment and illumination control knob. The styling of the caps has a staggered smooth and knurled area which I found to be adequately textured and comfortable for making adjustments. The controls are marked with crisp white lettering and index marks. If you click on the photo below you will see that Superior has done a nice job with the quality of the markings.
The elevation turret cap is marked with the direction to move the Point Of Impact (POI) of the bullet "UP" and is also marked with the amount of adjustment "1 CLICK 1/4" 100 YD". Note that the turret caps are marked in 1/4 inch click increments and the specifications state 1/4 MOA (Minutes of Arc or Angle). One MOA (four clicks) is equal to 1.047" of adjustment at 100 yards not 1.00". This is a very subtle difference, but if you are shooting long distances and trying to squeeze the maximum accuracy out of your setup, this difference is something you may want to consider.
One revolution of the elevation or windage turret caps will shift the POI by 15 MOA. There were 73 MOA of total travel on the elevation adjustment knob, so I feel the 60 MOA stated in the specifications is a good number to consider for an actual adjustment range. I reset the zero on the elevation turret cap once I got it back to mid travel. This new setting was very close to the position of the original setting so it appears the scope came adjusted to mid travel.
The windage turret cap is identical to the elevation cap except this cap marked showing the direction to rotate the cap to the "R" right, to move the bullet POI. This turret cap had about 72.5 MOA of total travel for adjustment and also seemed to have come pre-centered within the travel range. The windage adjustment range is also 60 MOA and I feel this is also correct.
You can remove the turret cap by holding the cap and turning the stainless steel screw using a coin. The cap is made from aluminum and has inner teeth that match up with the brass (I think) turret. No O-rings were visible when removing the cap, so the water proof sealing must occur on the turret body. I was able to get confirmation from the manufacturer that the O-rings were on the inside of the assembly.
The parallax (side focus) adjustment ring and illumination knob (switch) are combined on the same left side turret. The parallax adjustment ring is marked with 10, 20, 40, 50, 100, 200, 500 and ∞ yards hash marks. The ring has a smooth feel when rotating and the proper amount of resistance. It was possible to over rotate the ring on the 10 yard side, yet the ∞ symbol lined up perfectly with the index mark on the side of the tube.
The illumination knob was marked with a series of alternating numbers (1 through 6) and zeros (0). The smaller the number, the lower the intensity level of the illuminated dot at the center of the reticle. The zero position between numbers allows you to go directly from off to your preferred setting in a single click. At each marked location there was a distinct detent feel which held the illumination knob in position.
At the end of the illumination knob is a battery cap with a ridged outer surface for for gripping to unscrew the cap. The battery compartment looks typical for those taking a CR2032 battery. The aluminum cap included an O-ring to seal the compartment against moisture.
The bottom of the scope includes a gas port and serial number for the riflescope. The scope is nitrogen filled to ensure no moisture exists to prevent fogging (fogproof).
The eyepiece end of the scope incudes a fast focus eyepiece for diopter adjustments and a power adjustment ring. This end of the scope also shows the "SUPERIOR" brand name on both side of the eyepiece. The fast focus eyepiece also includes a rubber ring to soften a potential eye socket strike for the unfortunate mistake that occurs by some shooters. Although it is rubber, the rubber seems to be very stiff which would offer some, but not much protection. I don't see this as an issue because the rubber stiffness is similar to that of other riflescopes which I have reviewed.
The 30mm tube portion on the rear of the scope measured about 50mm (1.97") in length. The diameter of the fast focus eyepiece is about 43.5mm.
The fast focus eyepiece turns just over 1.75 rotations from its fully in to its fully out positions which equals about 0.50" of travel. There are no exterior marks on the eyepiece which might indicate a zero diopter adjustment. I was able to adjust the reticle to a very crisp image at about the mid range position.
The power adjustment ring has the same textured styling as the turret caps and parallax adjustment ring, but this ring includes a slightly recessed smooth area that gives you a good non-slip ridge to get hold of the ring when making adjustments. The ring had a stiff feel when rotating, yet wasn't too much resistance. The ring comes marked with small lettering at 2.5, 5, 8, 10, 12 and 15 power.
The reticle is what Superior describes as the European 4A reticle which gives the benefit of the thicker lines to help center the scope on the target while at the same time providing very thin cross hairs for precise shooting. I have shown below the reticle with both a dark red and white background. I must say that looking through the scope, the reticle appears very crisp and clear. Also, ignore the dark spots in these next several photos because that is the result of dust on my camera CCD.
This next series of photos shows the center dot illuminated in all six different illumination settings (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6). It may be hard to appreciate the crispness of the illuminated dot and understand the intensity level if you don't click on the photos to see a larger image. The bright white background makes the illuminated dot appear to be less bright. In low light conditions, even the lowest setting would be usable. Under bright conditions the brightest dot is also visible. The darker background is intended to show the illuminated dot in a darker light setting and with an overall dark background. The lower illumination settings would be much more useful in the low light or dark background conditions as they were intended. Overall I would say that the illumination range you get with the six different settings is appropriate. Again, you will need to click on the photos so that the reticle enlarges to at least double the size to match how the eye will perceive the reticle when looking through the riflescope.
Note that in low light conditions the maximum illumination setting does produce a visible glow on the inside of the scope. In reality, this intensity level would not be used in low light or dark background conditions. After providing this feedback to Superior, they indicated that they are going to make efforts to reduce this glowing effect if possible on future production models.
These next photos are an attempt to show images looking through the rifle scope at both the 2.5x and15x magnifications. Keep in mind that it is extremely difficult to reproduce what you actually see with your eyes by using a camera. It is very difficult to get proper camera to scope alignment and also get a proper focus adjustment. Overall these photos are close to what you will see looking through the scope, but actually looking through the scope is always more crisp and clear. These photos are at a very high resolution and clicking on them is the best way to see the details. Also keep in mind that blowing up the photos will show details that you may not be able to perceive with your eyes.
At 10 yards, the parallax adjustment ring (side focus) brings close objects into focus. At this range and with the parallax adjustment set at 10 yards, the depth of field at which objects are in focus becomes much shallower. I found objects to look very crisp and clear and the example of the rose below does a pretty good job showing how much detail you can see at 15x. Personally, I'm a big fan of having a parallax adjustment down to this range. When hunting, you never know what type of critter will come along close to you and this close-range-focus gives you the opportunity to study nature at its best.
These next two photos show looking through the scope at a mailbox located 80 yards from the scope with the parallax adjustment ring set at 100 yards. Unless I'm at the bench or in a hunting stand looking at an area with an average distance different that 100 yards, I keep my parallax adjustment set at 100 yards. This is the standard parallax free distance for centerfire rifles without an adjustment ring and I feel this distance offers a good compromise for multiple hunting situations. When at the bench, I always dial in my actual range. I struggled getting the camera lined up for the 15x shot and ended up with a slightly hazy look. As you increase the power of any scope, the exit pupil diameter becomes smaller and proper eye alignment (or camera in this case) is more critical for maximum clarity. The exit pupil diameters (objective lens diameter divided by zoom power) ranges from 11mm at 2.5x to 3.3mm at 15x.
For range testing, I installed the Superior Riflescope on my Thompson/Center Dimension Rifle because I wanted to use this rifle during this deer season and I also feel the power range of the Superior scope is ideal for a variety of hunting situations. Additionally, this switch-barrel rifle allowed me the opportunity to shoot both .308 Win and .223 Rem ammunition. The .308 caliber gave me the opportunity to test some ammunition with some recoil energy (although still relatively low) and .223 caliber allowed me to get some economical range time looking through and using the scope. For those interested, the rifle configuration shown below is with the .308 barrel installed.
I installed the riflescope using a set of Burris Signature Zee 30mm High height rings. You can see a review of these rings in medium height by going to this link.
I feel the look of the scope mounted on this rifle makes an attractive system. I could have potentially used the medium rings, but I didn't want to push the scope too low and potentially become an issue when switching barrels on this rifle. The height rings you will need may depend on your rifle configuration and personal preferences.
After installing the Superior riflescope on my rifle, I checked the eye relief at both 2.5x and 15x magnification powers. I used the two photos below to scale off the eyepiece diameter to get an eye relief calculation. The specifications state an eye relief of 100mm (3.94"). I found it to range from 3.76" at 2.5x to 3.89" at 15x and feel these are close enough to the manufacturer's specifications since there is some error in my method of measurement. Overall I think the scope has a long comfortable eye relief.
The last feature I wanted to understand was how the MOA adjustments of the elevation and windage target turrets would track and return to zero after making adjustments. I setup a ruler at 50 yards (backyard not big enough for 100 yards) and installed a laser on the barrel of my rifle. I zeroed the laser so that it aligned with the center of my reticle. In the photo below I'm showing how the laser lined up with the 30" mark while the reticle was on the 30" mark.
This next photo shows the point of impact of the laser after I dialed 20 MOA of right adjustment and kept the reticle on 30". The shift in point of impact was about 10.4" at 50 yards.
I checked the return to zero which was good and then dialed in 20 MOA of left adjustment keeping the reticle on 30". The shift in point of impact was about 11.1" at 50 yards
I did the same for elevation, but my reference point for an up adjustment was the 20" mark and the down adjustment the 10" mark. In these cases, 20 MOA of adjustment shifted the point of impact about 10.3" up and 11.2" down. In all cases the scope returned to zero and the reticle and the laser indicated the same point of impact.
The table below summarizes this data and puts it in terms of a 100 yard shift per MOA. I found it interesting that in both cases turning the caps out (up or right) produced a much closer match than turning the caps in (down or left). For the average shooter, the most critical of all adjustments is in the up direction when adjusting for bullet drop and I found there to be very little error at 20 MOA which is and extreme amount of adjustment (again for your average shooter). With any rifle scope, if you are going to utilize the MOA adjustment for distance and wind corrections, you should spend some time at the range verifying your setup.
I took my rifle and scope combination down to my range at Clearwater Lake and had my son sight in the rifle in the .223 Rem caliber configuration. After about a box or so of rounds, he was satisfied that the rifle was zeroed at 100 yards. We next took some time to shoot various distance steel plates from both the bench and freehand. The next day I re-verified the zero and shot another box of PMC 55gr FMJ ammunition. When I did my part, the riflescope and rifle did their part. The photo below is an example of a 4-shot group measuring about 1.0" that was shot from a bench at 100 yards shooting value ammunition. My son and I both came to the same opinion that the optics seemed crisp and clear (as mentioned earlier in the review) and the scope held zero.
I next switched the rifle configuration over to the .308 Win caliber and re-zeroed using some PMC 147 gr FMJ-BT ammunition. After about a box of ammunition at the bench shooting paper, I was satisfied with the zero and satisfied that there didn't appear to be any zero shift. I then took the opportunity to setup on the dock and shot some inexpensive Herter's ammunition at various steel plates at different yardages.
I was easily able to make solid hits to my torso target located about 330 yards down the lake (you may have to click on the photo to see the target). Again I was pleased with the optical performance of the Superior riflescope.
Throughout my range tests, I in no way demonstrated the true recoil (actually acceleration) capability of this riflescope. Superior states that the riflescope is capable of and has been tested to "1000 G's / 1000 times" which seems to be a pretty strong statement. Depending on the caliber rifle and weight of the rifle, the G forces applied to a riflescope my be approaching 300 G's (based on what I gather doing research on the internet). This 1000G / 1000 times gives a pretty good safety factor for most shooters and should provide a durable and long lasting riflescope. In the end, only time at the range or in the field will tell how well these riflescopes will last and if you purchase one of these scopes and have the opportunity to put thousands of rounds down range, please post a comment on your experience.
It may seem odd that I have reviewed a riflescope that is not readily available in the US, but I felt the value potential was worth checking out. At an MSRP of $499 to get a 6x zoom ratio riflescope that includes target turrets, parallax adjustment, illuminated reticle and fast focus eyepiece, along with good crisp clear optics, this Superior riflescope does seem like a good deal. I was pleased with the overall quality of the riflescope and performance and am looking forward to using it in the field this fall.
If you are interested in potentially purchasing one of these riflescopes, contact Superior Lens at email@example.com.