Phill Price puts a truly modern scope to the test

The fashion in rifle scope design today is very clear (excuse the pun) to anybody who has any interest in optics. Scopes are getting ever bigger, heavier and offering all sorts of technical innovations that we might never have imagined just a few short years ago; 30mm body tubes are the norm today and I've seen 34, 36 and even 40mm ones on display for firearms, so who knows where we're going in the future!

The range of magnification has increased hand-in-hand with the size of the scopes, and where in the past we'd have been expecting a 3-9 x 40 or a 4 - 12 x 50, we can now commonly see 25x scopes on offer. My challenge has been to understand just why people want these features and I think that I've found the answer. Long-range target shooting is gaining popularity with events like the Extreme Benchrest competition in Arizona getting huge media coverage, and rumours that similar events might well be cropping up here as well.

The Aztec Optics Emerald you see on test here is a classic example of the new breed. The 5.5-25 x 50 spec' is backed up with their proprietary DYND-1 (MOA) reticle which has a huge number of aimpoints that aid rangefinding and hold corrections. Another hot fashion feature is that the reticle is in the first focal plane, so it appears to shrink or grow as you change magnification, which is not what most of us are used to. The key benefit is that the distance the gaps between the marks on the reticle represent, remain the same no matter which magnification you select. This means that if you zero at 30 yards and you learn that the first cross hatch down is the right mark for 35 yards, it will be the same at 5.5 or 25x mag', so you don't need to worry. The reticle can be illuminated either red or green to suit the conditions of the day.

Oversize sidewheel included

This scope also has large, exposed adjuster drums that make 'dialling' for range and windage very quick and convenient. To employ these to best effect, you can take the time to sit on the range and shoot at each distance you need and write the number of clicks down, or use trajectory software to do the work for you. If you choose the latter option, it's vital to check the settings in the real world, to verify the data.

Although this looks like a firearm scope, it was, in fact, designed as an airgun optic from day one. You'll notice that the sidewheel parallax adjuster can be dialled down to 10 yards, although I don't imagine that many people would use a scope like this for ratting around the farmyard. An oversize sidewheel is included by Aztec, which can be used to rangefind. To do this you wind the magnification to the maximum and then rotate the sidewheel until the image becomes perfectly clear. You'll need to mark the wheel for each distance, which takes a little time and patience, but it's the only way it can be done successfully.

There are plenty of other accessories included, such as flip-up lens covers, a cleaning cloth, an adjuster tool and a sunshade extension tube. No mounts are supplied so I fitted the scope to my Air Arms S410 with the ever-faithful SportsMatch double-bolt, two-piece medium ones.

However, as you can see from the photos, to get the proper eye relief the saddle is pressed right up to the front mount, so if I was using this long term, I'd order a set of 'reach forward' mounts from SportsMatch which would offer better support and more adjustability.

Close competition

High magnification quickly shows up any imperfections in lens quality, so I compared the Emerald to another high-quality scope that costs a similar amount. This is a scope I know well and one that I've hunted with extensively. If the Emerald could match it, I'd know for sure that it was a winner. I'm pleased to report that it was a close competition and the Emerald gave a strong performance. The comparison scope only goes up to 15x mag', so that's where I did my test. As the Emerald was wound up to 25 the image quality was slightly reduced, but that's to be expected for a scope in this class. Most people use the highest mag' to rangefind and then a lower mag' to take the shot, a technique that worked perfectly for me.

If long-range target-shooting is your thing, then I recommend that you have a good look at the Emerald on test or its 3-18 x 50 sibling. They have all the features you could want or need and decent enough glass to make the most of them, all backed up with a lifetime warranty for peace of mind.


Manufacturer: Aztec Optics

Model: Emerald

Specification: 5.5-25 x 50

Body tube: 30mm

Length: 14.3" (365mm)

Weight: 1.6lbs (720 grammes)

RRP: £549 plus P&P

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