Born out of turbulent times in Bayreuth, Germany after World War II, Steiner-Optik has forged a reputation as a world optics leader over the past 70 years. I’d read so much about Steiner riflescopes and everyone who either owned or reviewed them was impressed. While not totally unexposed to a Steiner-Optik product previously, I’ll admit I’d never used a Steiner scope.
Steiner-Optik have been making optical equipment for some of the world’s defence forces, including Australia, and about 10 years ago while on deployment in East Timor our platoon was equipped with a set of Steiner RF (range finding) Mil Spec binoculars. They were an impressive piece of kit, crystal clear optics and measurements easily taken across mountainous terrain out to extended distances. So when Beretta Australia offered the latest Steiner Ranger 2.5-10×50 illuminated reticle (IR) with red dot scope for review, I jumped at it.
Out of the box
The scope arrived in a box large enough for a spotting scope and came with lens covers, microfibre cleaning cloth, warranty card and user manual. The look and feel oozed German quality and what struck me immediately was its compact size for a scope packed with big features and a 50mm objective lens.
Weighing 640g and measuring 319mm, Steiner-Optik is marketing the Ranger scope as ‘short construction’ and ‘excellent field of view’. With four times zoom the 2.5-10×50 is a what I’d regard a flexible power-to-size ratio of scope combination, suitable for a vast array of shooting requirements. Because of its universal nature I had to decide what rifle I’d field test it on and in the end went with two, the .22PPC for varminting and .284 Win for deer. Both hunting rifles coupled with the Steiner Ranger made for a well-balanced, compact fit.
The 30mm tube is made from a single piece of aerospace-grade aluminium and has a scratchproof, hard anodised, matte finish – a ‘true’ matte black finish in my opinion. The scope is nitrogen pressure-filled and waterproof to two metres. As usual the windage adjustment is on the right of the turret and elevation on top, the adjustment caps gripped easily and removed with little fuss.
Bucking the trend a little compared to the majority of riflescopes, the incremental windage and elevation adjustments equal one click for 1cm/100m. Also sharing the turret, on the left- hand side, is the brightness adjustment dial for the IR red dot. The dial is easy to use with six night-time and five day-time settings and ‘Off’ between those settings, night and day easily identified by the moon and sun symbols. The 3-volt CR 2032 battery for the IR is also in the adjustment dial.
The scope supplied has the 4A IR red dot in the second focal plane and an advantage of this is the reticle won’t change in size when magnification is adjusted up or down. I own a pair of other European brand scopes with the 4A reticle and after using them with great success I didn’t need convincing of the 4A’s merits – it’s perfect for drawing the target image rapidly to the centre. Plex and 4A-style reticles are my favourites.
The Ranger comes with a guide card to reference the value of the reticle sub-tensions. One thing I hadn’t owned before was an illuminated scope and the IR gives that edge over non- illuminated when hunting the last daylight starts to disappear. The benefits of the IR red dot were clear during field testing.
The dioptre adjustment ring on the ocular lens is easily turned for a clear reticle image and at the other end of the ocular lens housing is the zoom adjustment with full circumference rubber grip that feels firm to move. From 2.5-10x power all magnification settings are clearly marked and the desired zoom aligns itself at the 12 o’clock position. The 2.5-10×50 has no parallax adjustment and is set from the factory at 100m. At the business end is Steiner’s High Contrast 50mm objective lens coated with ‘Nano Protection’ to help repel water, dust, snow and fingerprints.
I set about mounting the Ranger to my custom .22PPC rifle using a purpose-built machined 30mm bar to help with scope ring alignment. The Ranger has a generous 90mm eye relief and I positioned it in the rings for a clear sight picture for when shouldering offhand rapidly.
My daughter Rachel joined me for an afternoon shoot to be followed by an evening spotlight session on the same property immediately after sighting-in. I may have been a touch over confident but the Ranger didn’t disappoint and took little effort to sight-in, two shots all it took to be on the money with my first three-shot group hovering around an inch. My next with the IR red dot ‘on’ was a massive improvement to my first, nailing a ridiculous three-shot group of .167 MOA – I was now confident to take it spotlighting.
I didn’t have far to travel and all it took was to pack up my benchrest and wait for the sun to disappear before heading to the other side of the property. The recipe for good spotlighting is darkness and, right on cue, ferals were going about their nocturnal chores, shot-for-shot the .22PPC and Ranger proving a lethal combination on hares. The optic quality of the high-contrast lens made light work of target acquisition in sub- standard lighting, and turning the IR red dot on made it even better and gave complete confidence that where I aimed was where the bullet hit.
After so much success with the Ranger in short time on my .22PPC I didn’t want to remove it but with the red deer roar less than two weeks away, I fitted it to my Brno .284 Win. As with the.22PPC it mounted perfectly to the .284 Win and my first three-shot sighting group of .780 MOA with 150gr Nosler Ballistic Tips impressed.
Our annual red deer hunt couldn’t come quick enough and we were back at our favourite part of the world in the Brisbane Valley for the roar. An unexpected deluge swept in from the west – perfect conditions to put the Ranger to the test. I found the IR red dot ideal for fast-sight acquisition in poor light, the quality of the high contrast 50mm objective lens coupled with the 30mm tube making it a breeze to cut through the conditions, so much so that in the pouring rain and bright lightning of an afternoon storm, I took a full-grown wild dog that strolled too close to camp.
The next day and with the rain cleared I nailed our one and only red stag, the scope set on 3x magnification to suit the close terrain we were hunting in. It happened fast and with just a moment to take the shot through thick scrub I’d secured a large stag with my .284 Win helped by the crystal clear sight picture from the Steiner Ranger.
I loved shooting with the Steiner Ranger 2.5-10×50, a scope perfectly suited to the .22PPC and .284Win rifles and the added advantage of an illuminated reticle cannot be understated. The superb lenses would suffice during low light conditions but the IR definitely gives an edge over a non-illuminated scope when visibility is reduced.
While the scope was delivered brand new it wasn’t returned totally unscathed. The atrocious conditions of our hunt proved the ideal environment for a solid field test and it accompanied me in pouring rain, pushing through almost impenetrable lantana gullies and up and down steep, slippery hills of mud. When the brief and only occasion presented for a shot on a stag, the scope performed faultlessly with that all-important one shot kill.
The Steiner Ranger 2.5-10×50 proved tough and reliable for both long and close-range shooting. I found it a true dual-purpose riflescope that can be mounted on either your favourite varminting or hunting rifles. An RRP of $1769 is what you can expect to pay for what is a high-quality German-made scope and I’d call that value for money. The Steiner Ranger 2.5-10×50 is backed by a 10-year mechanical and two-year electrical warranty. More at berettaaustralia.com.au