Redfield optics is a name that has been around in the USA scope market for many years and it has some legitimate sniper heritage to it. A Redfield was the scope first adopted on the USMC M40 sniper rifle during the Vietnam conflict as well as the US Army M21. That original M40 used the Redfield Accu-range 3-9x40mm scope with its range finding reticle. It also had a special green anodizing on it and original M40 scopes bring a lot of money on the collector market. Unfortunately, Redfield changed through the 1970’s and 1980’s and eventually ended up going out of business at the end of the last century. Redfield was an original American made scope manufacturer and it was hard to see them go, though by the end of their run their scopes were no longer made here in the USA. Then in 2008, Leupold decided to purchase the Redfield name and they have since revived the company and it is now a part of the Leupold family. The first scope introduced with the new Redfield was the Revolution series and once again it was made here in the USA over in Oregon. They have since released a few other lines of optics called the Revenge and Battlezone scopes, and some others, which are lower end scopes not made here in the USA. The Battlezone does have some scopes that could be considered for sniper use, and we’ll include a review of one in an upcoming article, but what we were really wanting from Redfield was a tactical version of their higher end Revolution series, and that is what they have done with their Revolution/Tac 3-9x40mm scope. This scope is still considered on the lower end of the tactical scope market, but the Revolution line itself has been decent, so we decided to see if perhaps Redfield could bring out a more affordable scope that could serve on a duty tactical rifle.
When the Revolution scope arrived in its box, it was obvious that it is a more compact scope than what is now becoming normal in the tactical scope market. We here at Sniper Central tend to be on the old school side of things, and we actually enjoyed seeing a small, light and compact scope come through our offices. We still firmly believe that the true skill of sniping involves a lot more field-craft than outright long range marksmanship, and we feel that a light and compact sniper rifle combined with a light and compact scope can make a deadly combination when in the hands of a properly trained sniper. A compact scope and rifle allows for easier and more efficient field-craft work by the sniper team. Yes, of course we like, and require, long range capabilities from our optics, but this does not always have to come in a 3 pound scope that is 18 inches long.
The Revolution/Tac scope includes just the basic additional items normally found in a scope box these days. Included is an instruction manual, reticle information, warranty card and a small Allen wrench used for slipping the knobs on the scope after zero. There is no sun shade or flip up scope caps included, but those items are not normally included on lower priced scopes unless they come from China, and we are glad these do not. The idea behind the Redfield is to keep it affordable but still have a good quality American made scope that has good functionality.
Leupold appears to be using the Redfield name and scopes to reach a larger market than the Leupold brand itself and it gives them an opportunity to go a little down market while keeping the Leupold name and brand more focused on the higher end. We can assume that these Revolution scopes are made alongside the Leupold line in Beaverton Oregon and to us, that is a good thing! The tubes are CNC machined from 6061-T6 aluminum alloy bar stock and you may notice that the shape is very similar to the Leupold VX line, or in this case, the Leupold MkAR mod1 3-9x40mm scope of which this Tac scope seems to be a relative of. The finish on the scope is a matte black that is even and well applied over the entire scope. The markings are white and for a tactical scope, we think the big Redfield “R” logo could, and probably should, have been toned down as it sticks out quite a bit. Some paint may need to be applied over the white logo for the sake of tactical discipline.
The eyepiece of the scope is a non fast focus eyepiece that is a more traditional design. The entire eyepiece rotates when adjusting the focus of the reticle which has a wide range of threaded area to adjust for diopter, or reticle focus. Once the diopter is adjusted to where the operator wants it, then the lock ring can be twisted until it touches the eyepiece and locks the eyepiece in place. This style system has been around for many years, and it works just fine, though it is not a fast way to do it. The eyepiece has some light knurling on it to help grip it when adjusting it and it also provides a little bit of friction for some flip up scopes caps (not provided) to grab onto if the owner elects to go that route.
The actual eye relief on the scope is very generous, ranging from 3.7″ to 4.2″ depending on what magnification the scope is set to. This is enough to allow the scope to be used on high power rifles with greater recoil. Granted, the lower magnification range of the scope is not conducive to its use on higher powered rifles that require the longer eye relief. But the generous eye relief also allows for more flexible mounting options, especially for rifles that may have a longer length of pull than normal, as it will still allow a good full field of view through the scope even if the scope is further forward than you might desire.
The magnification power selector ring is in front of the eyepiece and the ring itself is raised and has a high friction surface to it that provides a good gripping area for adjusting the magnification. There is a flat spot on top with an indicator mark and the magnification numbers are printed on the scope tube. That flat spot not only is there for the indicator mark, but it also provides an additional spot for the operator’s finger to grab hold of while rotating the ring. The high friction surface, which is very similar to the surface on a metal file, is plenty as the force required to adjust the magnification is not any more than standard and it rotates through the entire range nice and smooth. The actual numbers are printed on the flat part of the tube in front of that raised ring which makes them somewhat difficult to see unless the operator raises his or her head. Since this is a second focal plane reticle, the zoom must be on a specific power for the reticle to be accurate, but the good thing is that the correct magnification setting is 9x, or the highest, so the operator simply just needs to crank the power all the way clockwise until it stops and then he/or she knows it is on the correct zoom power for the reticle. While we do prefer to be able to easily see the markings for the power setting, the scope does make it quiet easy to get where the shooter needs it to be without taking their eye off of the scope picture.
One other quick note about the magnification is that the actual true magnification power is 3.3 – 8.5x, the 3-9x that is referenced in the name of the scope is rounded to the nearest whole numbers. This may sound a bit strange, but in reality, many of the scopes out there do not have exactly the stated power range specified, they just do not print what the actual magnification really is. We approve of honesty with stats and it is good to see Leupold/Redfield put the actual true number there. The only thing that really matters is that the zoom power is enough for the desired mission and that the reticle is calibrated to the true magnification, and in this case, it appears that it is.
The elevation knob is an external style knob that is located on a slightly elevated shoulder area of the scope. The knob is shorter than many external style knobs and is not overly large which is keeping with the small and compact motif of the scope as a whole. The top third of the knob is covered with an aggressive knurling to provide a solid gripping surface of which it does a good job. Because the knob is fairly short, there is not a lot of space to print the numbers, but they are clearly marked in white from 0 through 14 making an even 15 MOA of elevation adjustments per revolution. At standard atmospheric conditions at sea level, this is enough to get a 308 shooting the 175gr Sierra Match King bullet at 2600 fps from 100 to 500+ yards in a single rotation of the knob and up to 800+ yards in two revolutions. It would be nice to be able to get to 1000 in less than two revolutions to keep things simple, but the 15 MOA just doesn’t allow that with the 308. On top of that, there are no “rotational” hash marks below the knob to show when the knob has been rotated a full revolution, or to mark how many revolutions the knob has been rotated in total. The operators will need to track that on their own. The statistics list the total elevation adjustment for the scope at 56 MOA and our test sample here actually had 61 MOA of adjustment. So there is enough total elevation to take a 308 from 100 to 1000 yards provided it is mounted using a 20 MOA canted base.
The clicks themselves are very nice with a good muted click combined with a good tactical feel and each click represents .25 MOA of adjustment. There is no sloppiness in the clicks and there is a solid feel of quality. The knobs use three set screws to tighten the knob down to the internal post so once zero is achieved, the set screws can be loosened and the knob can be “slid” to exactly lineup on the indicator mark. There are clear markings on the top portion of the knob, where the knurling is, showing with an arrow which direction is up. This is easily seen from behind the scope and is a good indicator for the operator in tense situations. The size of the extrenal knob is also a nice size and is easy to get to and adjust. We are not sure about having the big “R” Redfield logo printed in white again on top of the knobs on a tactical scope, and again, some paint or tape would be utilized on a tactical setup.
The windage knob is the same size and shape as the elevation knob and it also exhibits the same nice clicks as the elevation knob does. The number markings are a bit smaller than on the elevation knob and they count up in both directions. There are 15 MOA of adjustment per revolution so the overlap on the numbering happens at 7.5 MOA, which is enough for the 175gr 308 Win to shoot in a 10 MPH crosswind out to 800+ yards without overlapping on the numbers. There are nice direction indicator marks on the windage knob itself showing which way is both right and left. We find the same documented 56 MOA of adjustment for the wind as there is for the elevation, though typically not nearly as much of that will be used as it is for the elevation.
There is no adjustable objective/parallax on this scope and that is typically the case on scopes with magnification ranges under 10x on the top end. Scopes without an adjustable Parallax are typically setup from the factory to be parallax free at 150 yards and while we do not know for sure, that appears to be about right for this scope as well. With proper scope alignment and if the operator uses the same cheekweld every time, parallax is typically not a problem. While an adjustable parallax is nice to have, the lack of one does simplify the use and operation of the scope and removes one more thing from the list of need to do items when preparing to engage.
The rest of the scope is pretty plain and straight forward. There are not a lot of additional markings beyond the logo and without any parallax controls, it is smooth and simple. The 40mm objective is small in today’s standards, but it was once the accepted standard. It does afford a small, light, and compact scope, though a 50mm objective would have allowed some additional light gathering at the expense of a bit more weight and a higher mounting point. Trying to determine if the tube is a single piece or not has been difficult, but it appears that it is a two piece design, though it seems that they have the procedure figured out. The original Redfield Company pioneered the one piece scopes back in the 1980’s, but if done right, multi-piece tubes can be as good or even better, it is a matter of production quality. Nightforce is known for their durability and they have a multi-piece tube. The manufacturing and construction quality appears to be good on these Revolution scopes that are made in the USA and they are backed up with a lifetime warranty as well.
For our operational tests we decided to mount this scope on a M40 reproduction rifle as it seemed like a natural fit. The rifle is a homage rifle built to commemorate the M40 when it was in its development stage in the mid 1970s when the USMC first started replacing the original wood stocks from the M40’s with the McMillan fiberglass stocks on the M40A1’s, but yet before the Unertl scope was adopted in about 1980 on the fully redesigned M40A1. During that time period, the Redfield accu-range scopes were still being used on the M40’s and we thought it would be a fitting tribute to put a Redfield on this rifle. The rifle is intended to be very field portable and a shooter, not an exact replica, so we thought it would make a nice combo for the test.
The scope was mounted onto the Remington action using a Nightforce single piece 20 MOA canted base and a set of TSR 1″ low tactical rings. The spacing on the scope tube was plenty to allow for mounting the scope exactly where we wanted it and when combined with the generous eye relief and the flexibility of a single piece rail with all its slots, there are a lot of options for getting the scope just right. All combined the rifle with its slim McMillan HTG stock (the same found on the original M40A1’s), a 24″ Remington heavy barrel profile, and the compact Redfield Revenge/Tac scope, it made for a very handy and light weight rifle. All complete with the heavy steel rings and base, the rifle still came in at 9 pounds, 10 ounces. When is the last time you handled or heard of a complete tactical rifle package come in that light with optics mounted? We were impressed with how light and easy to handle the complete package was, but what good is that if it does not perform? So off to the range we went.
The weather was about the same for all the shooting sessions with the scope, temps in the mid 70’s and sunny. After performing the initial zero we fired the scope through the box to see how the tracking was holding up and how repeatable the adjustments were. There was nothing of note from those tests and the scope seemed to track as it should. The rifle was brand new and was getting broke in on day one, so the groups were not as tight as we like, about 1 MOA. But by the end of the second session the rifle had settled down and we were getting much tighter groups that allowed us to more accurately measure tracking. We did our normal 20 MOA measuring test, firing a group then dialing in 20 MOA to the left, firing another group, and then coming back to zero and firing a third group. The first and last group were dead on top of each other which indicated good repeatability, and the second group measured 21.5″ left of the first and third group. This was under 3% of error from where it should be (20.94″). Anything under 3% is very good and what we consider accurate, this incorporates the “slop” factor that comes into play from group sizes. We also adjusted for 400 yards, engaged, then came back down to 100 yards and again everything was repeated and accurate. The scope was holding zero well and the adjustments were nice and accurate with good capability from short to midrange. We did notice that when the adjustments were nearly all the way at the bottom (within about 5 MOA) and the windage adjustments neared the extreme, the clicks would tighten up. This is not uncommon but still something to note.
The optics were bright and appeared sharp and we had a Leupold Mk AR Mod1 3-9x40mm right next to it for a side by side comparison and none of us could see any notable difference between the optics clarity, brightness and sharpness on the two scopes. There are probably some differences in lenses and coatings, but for performance, it is very difficult to tell any difference. Low light gathering is good for what the scope is. It has a smaller 40mm objective lens so it is held back a bit with light gathering, but the quality of glass is decent enough for the price of the scope and it is acceptable in low light conditions. We would like to see a 3-9x50mm version of the scope with everything the same, as that would make a nice little package with better low light capability.
With the max power only being 9x (actually 8.5x) and with a reticle size that needs to be thick enough to see in lower light conditions common for tactical use, it can be hard to shoot tight groups with the scope at 100 yards as the center crosshair all but covers up an entire 1″ when the scope is set to 9x. The reticle has hash marks every 2 MOA which allows for fairly accurate measuring of targets for range estimation use and with the knobs and reticle both in MOA it keeps everything in the same units which has become more popular in recent years. The various different thicknesses of the fat stadia of the reticle is a little different and at first we thought was a bit gimicky, but it turns out there are precise measurements between the steps and it can be used to easily and accurately measure a large target for range estimation. The reticle isn’t too cluttery and it is fairly clean and pure and works well for the intended use of the scope. As mentioned, it is located on the second focal plane so the operator needs to be sure to have the scope on its highest power setting when measuring the targets for range-e.
So just where does the Redfield Revolution scope fall in the tactical scope picture? Let us first keep in mind that the scope can be purchased for around $300 which puts it toward the bottom end of the spectrum of tactical scopes. But the thing we like, is that Leupold and Redfield have not tried to do something more than provide a basic tactical scope. By keeping the magnification range low, the objective lens small, and not trying to provide an adjustable objective or illuminated reticle, the price is kept reasonable and functionality is simple to use. When looking at the scope in those regards, it does just fine and even with those limitations the scope is capable of 800+ yard tactical shooting. The accuracy of the clicks is right on, the quality of the glass is as good as any others in this price range, the feel of the clicks is good, the shape of the knobs are easy to use, and best of all, it is light and compact. Will I take it over a Nightforce 2.5-10x42mm compact NXS? No, it is not even in the same discussion. But would I take it over a Chinese built 4-14x44mm with FFP and illuminated reticle for about the same price? Yes, I would. The overall quality is better, the factory and support are located here in the USA, and the lightweight compact size certainly has a place on some rifles and there are not a lot of options in that realm. The scope is essentially a Leupold Mark AR Mod 1 3-9x40mm but with MOA knobs instead of MIL and with a different reticle. Sure, there some other differences as well, but they are minor. We will have to see how it holds up over the long haul, but for now, we are pleased with what Leupold and Redfield came up with here.
Sniper Central – 2014