Most of you have probably not heard of Superior Lens Company, which is understandable. Over the past several years there has been a large influx of new scope companies that have entered into the market place and the number one reason why is because of the accessibility of the OEM Chinese scope manufacturers that make it easy for a company from another country, such as the USA, to import and market these Chinese made scopes as their own. Superior Lens Company is not actually one of the import companies but rather is one of the OEM companies making the actual scopes in China. Because many of these Chinese made scopes come from the same OEM’s, many of them look nearly identical as ones from other companies, which many of you have probably noticed. We at Sniper Central have typically had poor results when testing or using scopes made in China and this is why we do not test many of them. We are especially reluctant if the scope looks the same as others on the market from different branding companies. Superior Lens Company actually contacted us directly to see if we would test one of their scopes and were willing to accept the conclusions. After taking a look at their product, and discovering they were the actual manufacturer and that the scopes were different enough to the other Chinese scopes we figured we would give it a try.
The Superior factory is located in Zhugai, China, close to Hong Kong and Macau and on the China mainland. Superior is well aware of the fact that a vast majority of rifles scopes made in China are of inferior quality and are targeting the sub $100 market. The target market for the Superior Lens scopes is the mid grade $300+ market and the indicated that they not build any of the ultra cheap scope. They also indicated to us that they do build some of the HD OEM scopes for well known scope manufacturers and these scopes have done very well in reviews and are known for their quality. They openly stated to me that they feel they rival the factories in Japan and the Philippeans in terms of quality and that they intend to rival the European made scopes for quality. These are very high ambitions and we commend Superior for at least recognizing the reputation of Chinese made scopes and attempting to stay above it. Of course, the proof will be in the execution and performance of this business goal.
The scope we are testing here is one their 2.5-15x50mm scopes that is probably the closest fit to a tactical scope that they currently offer. Doing the math quickly reveals that this scope offers the 6x zoom range that has become popular with tactical scopes recently. The scope arrived in a plain black box with simple printed identification sticker on it. This basic box is common for direct Chinese imports that do not have OEM boxing. Again, because this scope came directly from Superior Lens and was not imported under OEM conditions with a manufacturer providing additional material, there are no instructions or accessories with the scope, just the scope itself in the box.
Starting at the back of the scope we noticed that there is a fast focus eyepiece with a rubber ring on the end to help prevent damage should the shooter get their eye too close to the scope during firing. The focus on the eyepiece covers a large diopter adjustment range and adjusts smoothly through the entire range which is covered in 1.75 rotations of the eyepiece. Fast focus eyepieces are nice for quickly being able to adjust the reticle focus to a specific shooter and their eyes, but they do not have any sort of locking mechanism to hold them in place when it is set. It is up to the amount of resistance of the eye piece itself to hold it in place once adjusted. On this scope, the amount of resistance is moderate and while it held in place during our firing, care will need to be taken if a flip scope cap is used to insure that it does not accidentally move the eyepiece during operation.
At the front of the eyepiece is the zoom adjustment ring which rotates independent of the eyepiece housing, allowing for the easy use of flip up scope caps. The zoom ring is slightly raised from the sloping eyepiece and there is a checkering styled texture done around the zoom ring. This checkering is done in “sections” around the ring and provides a surprising good amount of grip on to which the operator can get a good grip to adjust the zoom. The amount of force required to move the zoom ring is again moderate and provides a positive indication that it will remain in place once set. It also adjusts smoothly across the entire range with no noticeable changes in the amount of required force as it approaches either end of the range. One really nice feature on the zoom ring is the location of the power indicator markings. The markings are located on the front portion of the ring, angled toward the shooter, making it very easy for the shooter to see the numbers from the firing position. There is an indicator mark in the shape of a small arrowhead that is used as the reference mark to know what power the scope is set on, but that mark is not visible easily from behind the scope. Thankfully, that mark is at the very top of the eyepiece so the operator can determine the power setting by looking at what number is positioned at the top center of the scope tube.
The elevation knob is an external style knob with no dust caps, but they are not an overly large knob. There is a similar styled checkered knurling along the top of the knob to provide a gripping surface and there is only a small area for the printed numbers and markings. For each revolution of the knob, it covers 15 MOA of adjustment, the knobs are actually marked as being .25″ at 100 yards, also known as IPHY (Inches Per Hundred Yards), but when we asked the factory if this was correct they informed us that the knobs were marked incorrectly and that the correct value is .25 MOA, not .25 IPHY. The difference is slight, but it makes a huge difference at long ranges. Superior Lens indicated production scopes for OEM distribution are properly marked and the direct sales scopes will be corrected before they are widely available. Each click of the knob is marked with a small hash mark and there are clear markings at each whole MOA (1, 2, 3…). There are no horizontal marks under the knob to track each full rotation of adjustment and there is not a zero stop feature, which will make it critical for the shooter to maintain vigilance to know how many revolutions have been dialed in. The clicks themselves are a huge step-up for a Chinese made scope. Frankly, they are the best feeling click on any Chinese built scope that we have played with. The clicks are perhaps a little lighter than we like, but there is a nice muted feel with a positive tactile click without the ‘tingy’ sound associated with low quality scopes. There is no mushy feel or slop between the clicks that is commonly found on most all the other cheaper Chinese scopes on the market. These are actual real clicks! Are the clicks as good as the top US or European scopes? No, but they are a major step forward for a Chinese scope.
The technical specs indicate that there is 60 MOA of vertical adjustment, but our test sample scope had 72 MOA of elevation adjustment which would be borderline enough to get a 308 with 175gr from 100 to 1000 yards without the use of a canted base, depending on locale, barrel length, how it zeroed, and other factors. For extra surety, it would be advised to use a 20 MOA canted base to give the extra margin needed to insure the ability to get to those ranges, and there is enough elevation to not bottom the scope out at 100 yards when using that canted base.
Located on the right hand side of the scope, the windage knob is the same size and shape as the elevation knob and has the same 15 MOA of adjustment. The numbers count up only to the right, which in high wind scenarios may cause confusion when dialing in left wind. The windage knob has the same click feel and sound as the elevation knob but there was actually a bit of slop between each click on the windage knob that is not present on the elevation knob, which was a disappointment and could point to some possible quality control issues.
On the left hand side, opposite the windage knob, is a larger more complex knob that encompasses both the focus and the reticle illumination controls. The focus control is on the inside and it has a checkered knurling that is again similar to the elevation and windage knobs, but a little larger in diameter. It provides a decent gripping surface on which to grab and rotate the focus knob. The focus is fairly stiff and requires a good amount of force to move, but it is smooth through the entire range. There are range marks that roughly correspond to the distance in yards to the target you are trying to bring into focus. The markings go from 10 yards up to 500 and then a final mark at infinity. That entire range is covered in about half of a rotation and towards the top of the range it gets pretty tight together.
On the “top” of the focus knob is the reticle illumination control. It is nice to have this control moved away from the eyepiece so as not to obscure the the other dials, though it does create a tall knob overall. The illumination portion of the knob does not have the same checkered texture on it and with just the individual little grooves, it can be a bit hard to grasp in order to change the setting. There are six different brightness levels with an “off” position between each brightness setting. We like the off setting between each brightness level, but it would probably be better not to have a “0” marked for each off setting, it makes the markings cluttered on the knob. It is probably obvious, but we wanted to be sure to indicate that the illumination knob moves independent of the focus knob. The battery is located on top of this knob and the battery compartment cap does have some checkering on it to allow removal with just your fingers.
The scope tube is a one piece 30mm tube made from aircraft grade 6061-T6 aluminum and has a matte black anodizing on all the exterior surfaces. There were no obvious flaws in the finish and it looks nice overall. The forward bell on the 50mm objective has a different than usual shape with a distinct “step” or “kink” in it. At first we were not sure whether this was a joint for a multi-piece bell, but after speaking with Superior, it was cleared up and indicated it is purely a cosmetic shape. The forward bell is threaded for a sunshade, but there was not one provided with the scope.
The optics on the scope seem to be comparable to other scopes in this price range with good brightness and contrast and a sharp picture from edge to edge. When compared side by side with others from Bushnell Elite, Lower end Burris, and others in that price range, the picture is of comparable quality. The focus knob works as expected and brings the target into focus, though the tight settings at the top of the focus range can make it a bit sensitive at further distances. Just focus until you get a sharp picture and you should be good to go. The eye relief is listed at 3.9″ but we noticed it covers about 3.75″ at the highest magnification and 4.25″ at the lowest magnification power which should allow the scope to be used on higher recoiling rifles. Superior also indicates that the scope is the normal shockproof, fogproof, and is rated for use on a .50BMG.
We do need to mention the reticle. The factory sent us a couple of scopes they thought might be suitable for tactical use, of which this 2.5-15x50mm was the best choice. Unfortunately it was sent with a European 4A reticle with a dot. Superior does, or can, make this scope with a mil-dot reticle which obviously would be the proper choice on this scope. As it was, we figured we would just have to make do with what we had for this evaluation. The left, right, and lower stadia have a thick line that steps down to a thin stadia like a traditional duplex reticle. The top stadia is just the thin stadia the entire length. At the very center of the reticle, the aiming point, there is a floating dot. I do not have any substention measurements to be able to tell you exactly the size of the dot, but at 15x it appears to be about .5 MOA. The reticle is located on the second focal plane, so it does not grow or shrink with the changing of the magnification.
With the scope technically scrutinized, it was time to test it operationally, which is where it really counts. To test the tracking we mounted the scope to our modified benchrest tripod which holds the scope firmly in place. We then aligned and orientated the reticle with a plumb-bob about 75 yards away. With the reticle oriented to the string on the plumb-bob we can use it for our vertical indicator line and then adjuste the elevation knob to see how it tracks. We adjusted the knob two full rotations, watching the reticle to see if it wandered off of the plumb-bob line as it moved up the 30+ inches. The knob tracked right along the line without any wandering which is a good sign as some scopes do not have good tracking. Using the same fixed mounting rest, we then put the center aiming point right on a small aiming point at about 100 yards and watched it as we zoomed the scope through the entire 2.5-15x range, this is done to insure that the reticle did not wander away from that aiming point as the zoom was adjusted through the zoom range. Again, the scope performed the test very well. This is another common problem on lower priced scopes and is something we have been asked to add to our testing by readers, which we have elected to do.
With these technical tests completed, it was time to mount the scope to a rifle and head to the range for the practical tests. We used our normal Rem 700P test mule rifle that will typically shoot about .5 MOA consistently with 175gr match ammo. We mounted the scope using some Burris XTR six-screw tactical rings on top of the 20 MOA Warne rail mounted on the Remington. There is a generous amount of tube length in front of the control knobs, though not as much behind the knobs. Overall, mounting the scope was straightforward with no problems, especially on a short action rifle with a picatinny rail.
We could have tested the box and click value measurements with the scope mounted to our test fixture, but we like to do it firing live rounds as this adds recoil to the mix and provides an additional test of how everything holds up and tracks while going through the stresses of recoil being placed on the scope. This is just a better real world test than just measuring everything with the scope mounted to a fixture. We used a 6 MOA box for the tracking and repeatability test, starting in the upper right and shooting groups using the same aiming point and making 6 MOA of adjustments to the windage and elevation knobs to shoot at each corner of the box. The fifth and final group is shot on top of the first to check that the knobs are repeatable. When the drill was completed, the box looked very nice, but it seemed a bit larger than normal. When we measured the box from center to center of the groups, the sides each measured about 6.6″, or about 6.3 MOA, meaning that each MOA of adjustment was really about 1.05 MOA. That was a bit large, but there is some slop that needs to be accounted for with group sizes and the amount of adjustments on each side is small enough that we might have just been seeing testing variances, but we knew we would find out if there was anything wrong with the next test.
To measure the accuracy adjustments, we first fire one group and then dial in 20 MOA of adjustment to the left, fire another group, and then bring the dials back to their original values and fire a final 3rd group to again check the repeatability of the adjustments. We then measure the distances between groups one and two to see how accurate the click sizes are. We use a larger value of 20 MOA, because it helps take out some of the error introduced by group sizes when shooting three round groups. Because there is going to be some “slop” due to those group sizes, we allow for some percentage of error. If the error is under 5% it is acceptable, but we like to see it under 3% error from where it should be. Since these knobs are setup in MOA, we expected the groups to be exactly 20.94″ apart. We fired the three groups and once again the repeatability was right on with that third group landing right on top of the first. All three groups measured under .5 MOA. We then measured the distance between the groups and it came out to 22.28″, or 21.28 MOA instead of the dialed in 20 MOA. The error again was similar to what we saw shooting the box test, each 1 MOA dialed in was actually about 1.06 MOA. The error was 6.4% which is outside of out acceptable range. If you dialed in 35 MOA of adjustment to shoot at 1000 yards, that extra .06 per 1 MOA would equate to about 22″ of extra elevation dialed in, which would be a problem. This was disappointing to see since the repeatability of the knobs was very good. It will be interesting to see if the factory addresses this issue. We do admit that this could just be a problem with this single test sample we had here, but we would not know for sure without testing and measuring a number of sample scopes to see if they all had the same problem.
Overall, what are our impressions? Well, I will say that this is the best Chinese scope that we have tested, and the price would indicate that as it is priced higher than the other Chines scopes. Superior Lens also offers a lifetime warranty against factory defects on the mechanical scope and a 1 year warranty on the electronics portion of the illuminated reticle. The quality is better than the cheaper low quality scopes out there and it puts it on par with other upper end budget scopes available from the name brand scope makers like Bushnell, Sightron, and others. The adjustment size problem is significant for long range shooting and needs to be addressed, plus the slop on the windage knob, and mis-marked dials does cause concern as well. There are also some things we do not like, such as the lack of horizontal marks for the elevation knob, the windage knob counting up in only one direction, and the focus knob could use a larger range of adjustment to allow more precise focusing. But overall, it is a step up for Chinese made scopes, though make sure you get a mildot reticle.