It seems that every year there is another new Optics manufacturer which makes it difficult to keep up with what is out there and available to sniper teams. These scope manufacturers can be anything from a company that has OEM scopes built for them in China, all the way up to extremely high end scope builders here in the USA. Unfortunately, some of these makers fold after a few years, or even the high end ones can get bought out and close up shop (think Premier Reticle). Here we have another scope manufacturer, this time around known as Lucid Optics. If you read the information about the company on their web page about why it was founded you get a lot of the normal comments such as ‘building the company one satisfied customer at a time’, not making any “me too” products, and how their products are developed with a ‘hands on approach in the field’. This is all good marketing information, but when it is all said and done, do the scopes perform? That is what our job at Sniper Central is, and the only way we know how to do that is to bring in one of their products and put it through a full test.
The model that was sent out to us for evaluation was the L5 6-24x50mm scope with their standard L5 MOA reticle. The scope comes packaged in a standard white box with very minimal markings. Included in the box is a set of cheaper flip up scope caps, a very basic instruction manual, lens cloth and a wrench for setting the adjustment knobs. The box is certainly basic without much frills, but that is fine, we would rather expenses be spent on the scopes themselves instead of on the box. The manual is also lacking, its just a folder sheet of paper, so do not expect to find much information in there if you have questions.
Upon initial inspection of the scope, one of the first thing we look for is an indicator of the country of manufacture, while this does not always tell the true quality of the scope, it can give a general idea of things to look for and what to expect. Unfortunately, directly under the turrets we found the markings “Made in China”. I say unfortunate because we have had very poor luck with Chinese made scopes. There are some that do okay, but for the most part the quality just is not up to the standards we as snipers and long range shooters need. Due to the pricing of the Lucid scopes, it does not come as a surprise about the country of origin, and Lucid does talk about how they approach their scopes differently and that they are designed here in the USA, so we held out hope that perhaps they were working directly with the manufacturing company in China to have their own features and standards implemented. The scope itself does not have the same look as some of the OEM manufactured Chinese scopes do, those scopes are just a rubber stamped rehash of the OEM factory’s own design. So once again, we came into the review with an open mind that perhaps this time a Chines scope would do okay.
The eyepiece of the scope is long and houses the adjustable ocular lens to provide dioptre adjustment in order to focus the reticle to the users eye. There is a rubber cap on the ocular lens to both provide protection to your eye in case you get too close during firing and also to provide a good gripping surface when adjusting the eyepiece. The entire range of adjustment is covered in about 4.2 revolutions which we would not categorize as a fast focus, but is not as fine as say a Leupold. It seems to be a decent mix between the two and allows for fairly precise adjustments. When the ocular is adjusted all the way out, there is no movement from side to side or up and down which is a good thing. Lower quality scopes usually have some movement here…so far, so good. There is enough adjustment range on the ocular to be able to focus for a wide range of different eyes on different shooters and we were all able to get a good sharp reticle by looking at a blank wall and adjusting as needed. The adjustment is smooth through the entire range with a light to medium force required to adjust it. There is no locking mechanism so it relies solely on the friction force to keep it set.
At the front of the long eyepiece is the zoom power adjustment ring. This ring has white markings to indicate the zoom power from 6x through 24x and instead of putting some sort or knurling on the ring, there are some rubber protrusions that are attached. These hard rubber protrusions provide the gripping surface to be able to move the semi-stiff power ring. They stick up a small amount from the ring itself and there is one that is taller than the rest, which we believe was done on purpose. This extra tall protrusion is oriented next to the 6x and acts to provide some additional leverage to move the power ring. The markings are closer to the operator, but they are marked on a flat surface so the shooter will need to raise their head to determine the exact magnification that the scope is set at. The reticle is located on the second focal plane, so it is necessary to be able to know what power the scope is on in order to properly measure the targets for range estimation. The good thing is that the reticle is set to be accurate at 24x, so it does make it easier to just be able to crank the zoom up until it stops, then you know you are on 24x and ready to measure the target. The zoom ring adjusts fairly smooth through the range, but does stiffen up towards the bottom end from about 8x to 6x.
There is right about two inches of tube area for the rear scope ring to mount and then the tube transitions nicely into a slightly raised shoulder for the control knobs. The elevation and windage knobs are large external knobs with one level of markings on a moderately large marking surface. The hash marks are tall which reduces those markings to just one level, though they are bright and easy to read. On the top of the knob the same rubber protrusion theme carries through from the power selection ring and similarly shaped rubber protrusions exist on the top of the elevation and windage knobs. These protrusions again provide a gripping surface to not only rotate the knob, but to also lift the knob up since the turrets are locking turrets that raise up and down. When the turret is down, it is locked, you then pull it up to unlock them and dial in your adjustments and then push back down to lock in place. There is some sound logic to this feature, but there is some sound logic against it as well, such as remembering to pop them up during stressful situations, and more importantly, at least on this scope, there are no rotational marks under the knob to know how many full rotations you have dialed in when shooting long range.
Speaking of clicks and markings, this is where we come into a major problem with the L5 scope: the clicks are 1/8 MOA per click. This presents two major problems for this scope. The first is that 1/8 is too fine of an adjustment size for sniper use as we have to dial in lots of elevation and windage changes and that is a lot of extra clicks to have to dial in. For long range target shooting, the 1/8s are fine, but not for field work. The other major problem, and this is a specific issue with this scope, is that the elevation marks do not line up correctly after the first full rotation. If you look at the picture below, you will notice that there are 7.5 MOA of adjustment per revolution. So if you need to dial in 10 MOA of up, it will actually line up on the 2.5 marking, which is very confusing and would be very difficult to track and remember.
The knobs are reset-able so that once your initial zero is achieved, you can remove the single screw on the top of the knob and set it to zero. The clicks themselves are unfortunately mushy. There is a good audible “click”, but there is about a half of click of slop before the click will happen and the tactile click is not well defined. It is better than some other lower priced scopes, but this continues to be a weakness in cheaper scopes, especially ones sourced from China. We already mentioned that there are 7.5 MOA per revolution and a factory listed total of 50 MOA, which is actually pretty high for a 24x scope with 1/8 MOA clicks. Our test sample here actually had 69 MOA of elevation adjustment which equates to over 9 full rotations, which as you might imagine would be very difficult to keep track of, especially without horizonal rotation marks and with 7.5 MOA per rotation to throw you off. Lucid makes another L5 scope in 4-16x44mm which we would have thought would have been a good compromise scope with 1/4 MOA clicks which would have made 15 MOA per revolution and could have been a better choice, but alas, it has the same 1/8 MOA clicks and suffers from the same short fall as this 6-24x50mm version.
The windage knob is the same as the elevation knob in size, shape, and function, but it does count up in both directions. There are no markings on the numbers to indicate whether you have left or right dialed in, but since the overlap happens at 3.75 MOA, it would rapidly get confusing anyway. That 3.75 MOA gets a 308 shooter with 175gr ammo to about 475 yards in a 10 MPH crosswind, and then the confusion would begin with the overlap. It certainly can be usable, but it’ll take practice and training to get used to it and comfortable and even then it would be questionable.
On the opposite side of the scope from the windage knob is a side focus knob that is not as tall as the windage and elevation knobs and is slightly larger in diameter. The same rubber protrusions are located on the knob and they are needed as the focus knob can be stiff and a good grip is needed to make your focus adjustments. There are hash marks along the knob with a 15 yard mark down on the bottom end and an infinity mark on the top. The full range of adjustment covers about 80% of the knob which helps give more precise control over the focus. There is no locking feature, which is the way it should be, and while it is stiff, the control is decently smooth though it gets just a bit stiff on the very top end of the adjustment range.
In front of the shoulder of the scope there is another 2.25″ inches of tube to mount the forward ring before the one piece aluminum tube slants up into the bell of the scope. The bell itself is threaded to allow the use of sunshades, but no sunshade is provided with the scope. The objective lens is set back into the housing about three quarters of an inch which provides some natural sunshade effect. The overall design of the scope is nice with a pleasant shape and nice matte black anodizing on the entire scope. The white markings are not too over powering, though the lucid logo on the eyepiece is large. The black anodizing appears to be appropriately thick and evenly applied over the entire tube and the overall dimensions of the scope are not too large and the scope itself isn’t too heavy at just over a pound and a half.
There is only one reticle available from Lucid on the L5 scopes. It is a MOA based reticle which does mean the reticle and the knobs are in the same unit, which some shooters prefer. The reticle itself is different than most of the tactical reticles out there. There is the vertical stadia with dots at each 2 MOA on the lower half and then dots for each 4 MOA on the horizontal stadia. On the lower vertical stadia each dot has a horizontal hash on it that is 1 MOA wide that can be used to help measure objects as well. The reticle is not traditional, but knowing the dimensions allows the shooter to get measurements to use the MOA range estimation formula with. Since ballistic charts can, and usually are, made in MOA, the dots can also be used to do hold overs for wind and elevation as well. As we mentioned, the scope is a second focal plane scope so it needs to be set to 24x for measuring. Since it is a second focal plane scope, another trick is that you can set the scope to 12x and each dot on the vertical stadia would then represent 4 MOA instead of 2, or you could even set it to 6x and they would then represent 8 MOA.
With the detailed evaluation of the scope complete, we needed to perform our operational tests to see how the scope performed on a rifle and doing what all rifle scopes are designed to do, place rounds on target! For our shooting portions of the test we mounted the scope to our Remington 700P test mule chambered in 308 Winchester. We mounted the scope using a set of Leupold Mk4 30mm rings and using the one piece 20 MOA canted rail we always have mounted to the rifle. Finding the correct ring spacing was no problem at all and the scope was mounted up quickly and without any issues. The first question we needed to have answered was whether there would be enough down elevation adjustments to zero the scope at 100 yards with the 20 MOA canted base. Luckily, with the extra MOA of adjustment our scope had versus the factory specs meant we ended up with about 2 MOA to spare once it was mounted and zeroed.
Our first functional test is always shooting the box to determine how well the internal windage and elevation adjustments work and if they are repeatable. We used a basic 4 MOA box and fired groups at each corner and then a fifth one to insure that the controls returned to where they started. The box measured right at 4 MOA and the box was nice and square. We then test the size of the clicks to insure they are the correct .125 MOA per click. We do this by first firing a group, then dial in 20 MOA of left on the scope and fire another group, and then dial 20 MOA of right back in and fire a third group to insure the adjustments again are repeatable and the third group lands where the first one is. We measure the distance between the two groups and see how close it is to 20 MOA. Because there will be variances in the group sizes, we consider 5% error to be passing and 3% is considered good and what we want to see. When we fired this test with the Lucid the third group did come right back to the original group and then when we measured the spacing it was 20.76″. At 100 yards 20 MOA measures 20.94″, which meant that the adjustments were less than 1% off, which was a very good score and indicated the clicks were accurate from the factory.
The optics on the scope are about in line with other scopes in this price range. Lucid claims 92% light transmission, which seems about right to us. The glass is fully coated as well and nitrogen purged to prevent fogging. When we used the scope at various different ranges, we did struggle sometimes to get a perfectly crisp image through the scope with the focus knob. It almost seemed as if there was a little bit of slop in the side focus dial as well, but that was hard to determine for sure.
The last operational tests we do is to check for reticle shift when operating the zoom ring as well as the focus. We use an optical boresighting grid that mounts to the barrel and then move the reticle to be perfectly centered on the grid and then watch the reticle as we cycle through the entire zoom range, and then do the same for the focus knob. When we tested the scope with the zoom power, it was solid with little to no movement from 6x to 24x meaning there should be no shift of impact for rounds fired when changing the zoom power. We then ran the same test with the side focus, and here we have to report the scope failed pretty bad. From the 15 yard focus all the way up to the infinity focus, there was at least a 5 MOA shift in the reticle. From about where the 100 yard focus is up to the infinity, there was a 3+ MOA shift up, from the 100 yard focus down to the up close 15 yard focus, there was another 2+ MOA shift down. As we took the focus from 15y up to infinity, we could just watch the reticle climb up and slightly left. It was dramatic, and telling. Unfortunately, because of all the different ranges we engage at as a sniper team, this would have a detrimental impact on long range shooting performance.
The scope does has some decent qualities, the glass isn’t bad, the adjustments are accurate, and it has some desirable features. The clicks are a bit mushy which we do not like, but we could live with them if needed because they are accurate. But with the 1/8 MOA clicks, offset marking on the elevation knob after 1 rotation, and the reticle shift with the focus adjustment, it would be hard for us to see using this scope on a duty tactical rifle. If you are looking for an affordable target scope to use in competition where you can set the focus and then zero the knobs, it might work okay for you. But unfortunately it falls victim to some of the same short comings of other Chinese built scopes. In our opinion it is still better to avoid buying a Chinese made scope for a rifle you have to depend on, you can do that by either reducing the required features you need on your scope to keep the price within budget, or save a little more money to increase your budget to afford the same features but with a higher quality.
Sniper Central 2016