Blaser isn’t just a rifle or shotgun brand – it’s a big name in the optics world, too, and Chris Parkin has one of their flagship offerings on test
Blaser, as a brand, have a very loyal following, and when their optical line of binoculars and riflescopes appeared more than two years ago, it was interesting to see how marketing and technology would combine to honour their name.
The 2.8-20×50 option most appropriately represents the market for hunting purposes; a smaller fast fire 1-7×28 for driven game and larger 4-20x with 58mm objective for low light are also offered, the former of which has interesting properties of variable illuminated dot size.
The first encounter with this 2.8-20×50 shows the rail mount facility, which is relatively uncommon in the UK rifle shooting world. The underlying construction shows a 34mm diameter tube melding into the Zeiss pattern rail that Blaser specifically market for mechanical performance.
They are especially proud (and with proven confidence) that their rifles and mounting systems have superb return to zero when dismantled for transport or altered, and I have to personally agree with these findings, it is a reliable system tube or rail scope.
Fastening directly to the barrel rather than the action seems to be the key from the claw mounts on saddle or rail, and to complement this, Blaser only offer their optics with first focal plane reticles that cannot positionally vary with zoom setting.
This seems a little unusual. Scopes from Swarovski, Zeiss, Kahles and Leica, for example, all tend towards the second focal plane setup for their premium hunting optics.
This allows the reticle to remain constant in perceived size to the shooter, regardless of magnification, whereas the FFP system sees the reticle shrink or grow as magnification is changed to suit circumstances.
Blaser have advertised that their FFP setup is more suited to bracketing animals of approximately known sizes, between the arms of the no.4 type reticle for distance approximation that we all know works well with experience, yet seems remarkably disconnected with modern advances with both laser rangefinding (now integral to optics in some cases) and the fact that extended range capability is clearly marketed by Blaser from the QDC (Quick Distance Control).
Elevation turrets fit here. These lock in position but will lift to turn, offering an additional 8 mRad of clicks (10mm @100 metres per click) to engage targets at extended range with precision aiming capability rather than holdover more connected with the ‘older ways’.
Is longer range shooting suitable with ‘bracketed’ targets? Don’t get me wrong, these systems do work within limits – it just seems a little ‘old school’ and ‘new cool’ where marketing is concerned.
Anyway, apart from that, the Blaser scope boasts an iC control system whereby the illuminated centre dot is initiated when the rifle’s de-cocker is pushed forward. This is an excellent concept to integrate rifle and optic and extend battery life.
The other controls on the scope entail beautifully engineered slick finishes to all external aluminium tube surfaces, with graphite coloured anodising that doesn’t rub the skin from your hands. Exquisite diamond-pattern chequering is moulded into the rubberised surfaces on the zoom ring and turrets. The other new move is to swap windage and parallax control to the opposite side of the scope.
I don’t care what the marketing hype says, regardless of left or right-handed shooters, we all need to operate both dials at some point and have generally got used to their unconfused locations, regardless of personal preference. Here the windage is shown on the left side with parallax and illumination to the right of the saddle, so is it really of any benefit when considering all shooters?
Parallax clicks into position for 100 metres with further rotation enabling clear image focus either side of that depending on target distance. There is no backlash and all controls are smooth, with no perception of internal mechanisms in transit, a factor that adds a certain garnish to the construction standards present.
The scope offers the usual optical excellence the brand is known for, with a precise image and flat field of view. Well-balanced colouring without aberration is offered alongside good capability into low-light gloom. Reticle focus is sharp, with a good balance between low and high magnification as it swells through the zoom range.
The centre dot is perfectly round with no undue sparkle or shimmer, though it does appear to move slightly in relation to the etched black reticle’s centre as your eye varies slightly in position across the spacious eye box.
Perhaps the spacious eye box and its accommodating performance reveal an effect other scopes only wish they could display as here, with 90mm of eye relief, comfort using the rifle is perfect using moderately recoiling calibres. Most importantly, even at 20x magnification, it is easy to remain within the eye box as the rifle powers through the shot, return to point of aim with a relaxed eyeball is assured.
In terms of design style, this unit does seem a little confused in what it attempts to achieve ergonomically, with swapped turrets that are of no real benefit to the left-handers. But hunting with the scope was an optical pleasure, and when used in the real world, rather than just on paper, its true optical excellence is assured.