By Thomas Gomez
Blackhound Optics is a new optics company that is offering quality riflescopes at reasonable prices. By using a virtual dealer model, Blackhound Optics cuts out a lot of costs that traditionally raise the price of a riflescope. Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to catch up with James Mason, the CMO of Blackhound Optics, to examine his company’s products. Together we looked at the Genesis series, Blackhound’s first product line. For the test, I selected the Genesis 6-24×50 FFP, which has a Mil-based reticle and Mil-based adjustments. The Genesis 6-24×50 FFP has a 30mm main tube, is first focal plane and is available in Milliradians (MRAD) or Minutes of Angle (MOA).
Specification and Features
Those familiar with my work in the precision rifle industry know that I live by the mantra, “Regardless of price, all scopes are terrible until proven otherwise.” Tracking, parallax, clarity, total travel and reticle subtensions all need to be checked before a scope is fit for use. I don’t warm up to a scope until I have several hundred rounds and a few hours behind it.
Before I mount an optic to a rifle, I first attach it to the Scope Tool from Targets USA (targetsusa.com). The Scope Tool was designed by Frank Galli of Sniper’s Hide and Marc Taylor of Alaska Precision Rifle. Essentially it is a 30-pound weight with a MIL-STD-1913/Picatinny rail attached. The Scope Tool allows an end user to secure his scope to the fixture and test tracking without having to fire a shot. It is also perfect for checking reticle subtensions. A subtension is the distance between your Mil dots or Mil hash marks. Calibrated subtension is essential, especially if you use your reticle for “Milling” targets or holdovers. In my experience, first focal plane scopes are typically calibrated appropriately. Second focal plane scopes are where this test is crucial. With second focal plane scopes, manufacturers designate a magnification where a specific angular measurement is represented at a certain distance. The Blackhound Optics Genesis I tested is a first focal plane scope, but I still felt it necessary to check the reticle.
Testing took place at Founders Ranch in Edgewood, New Mexico. Since it was a Tuesday the range was closed, but we made arrangements with the owners, who were kind enough to let us use the range for the afternoon.
To check subtensions, I placed an RE Factor Tactical Hitman Target 100 meters down range (refactortactical.com). The Hitman Target is a wonderful tool. The target has a giant reticle printed dead center that is subtended in .10 Mils/1cm increments. It also has blue lines every 1 Mil or 10cm. Besides the reticle printed on the target, there are also a variety of small targets to assist in getting zeroed and for shooting groups.
The Scope Tool was placed on a shooting bench, and I torqued down the Genesis 6-24×50 FFP. I adjusted the Scope Tool until I saw the blue sky on the horizon and adjusted the eye diopter on the Genesis scope. After getting a crisp reticle, I adjusted the legs on the Scope Tool until the reticle aligned perfectly with the reticle on the Hitman Target. I maxed out magnification and was happy to see that the .5 Mil hash marks in my reticle lined up perfectly with the Mil hash marks on the Hitman Target.
Does It Track?
After testing reticle subtensions, it was time to test Tracking. Tracking is when you dial your elevation or windage to a specific value, and the reticle moves in accordance with the value you dialed. For example, if I dial the elevation knob 5 Mils up, I should see my reticle move 5 Mils down. I once again lined up the reticle in the scope with the reticle on the Hitman Target and slowly dialed up and down 10 Mils. I repeated this process several times and was pleased to see the scope track just fine. One thing to note is that the clicks are solid and audible. One of my pet peeves is “mushy” adjustments, especially when coming back to my zero.
Contrary to popular belief, the parallax knob—or as it is erroneously known, “side focus”—is not there to make your image clear, but to put your reticle and target on the same focal plane. It is vital that shooters adjust parallax when shooting. It is especially critical when zeroing.
To check parallax, I moved the shooting bench 180 degrees so that I could see across the range. I ranged structures, trees and rocks from 100 meters all the way out to 1000 meters. Keeping the Genesis in the Scope Tool allowed me to adjust parallax and move my head from side to side to look for movement in the reticle. I am pleased to say the Blackhound Optics Genesis passed with flying colors.
Checking Total Travel
Before attaching the Genesis to my Howa 1500, I dialed the elevation turret all the way down, then all the way back up. The Genesis had a total travel of 19.3 Mils. The manufacturer’s spec sheet claims 18 Mils. When I pointed out the extra 1.3 Mils to James, he appeared visibly upset. This variation is actually quite common, and I would personally be happy to have an additional 1.3 Mils of elevation. James’ reaction spoke volumes about his company’s commitment to quality control. Since at a minimum, the Genesis only has 18 Mils of travel, 9’ish of which will be available for dialing elevation, I recommend installing a 20 MOA (5.8 Mils) scope base if you want to use this scope for shooting out to 1000 yards and beyond.
Sending Rounds Down Range
After checking subtension, parallax and tracking, it was time to attach the Blackhound Optics Genesis to a rifle and shoot some groups. For this portion of the test, I brought a pair of semi-custom rifles. Both rifles were Howa 1500s chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor and 6mm Creedmoor. The 6.5 Creedmoor was mated to an MDT ESS Chassis, and the 6mm Creedmoor was mated to an MDT LSS XL Gen2 chassis. Both rifles are capable of sub .5 MOA accuracy when paired with good ammunition and a steady shooter.
After I had attached the Genesis to my Howa and loaded Hornady 147 MATCH ammunition into my magazines, I proned out on my shooting mat, dialed down the magnification of the scope, loaded into my bipod, inhaled, exhaled and squeezed the trigger. Through the scope, I saw my shot land several Mils high and to the right. Adjusting windage and elevation, I fired again. My round landed on the Hitman Target. Using the reticle, I measured point of aim to the point of impact. I made a few adjustments and sent another round down range. Bullseye! Three shots and I was zeroed. Finding a small target on the Hitman Target, I fired a 3-round group and was satisfied with the results. With a good zero, I once again repeated the tracking test. I shot seven rounds, every time adjusting up 1 Mil, then seven rounds down. Though not as precise as using the Scope Tool, I was happy to see the Genesis track accordingly. I shot a few more rounds, and we called it a day.
The Genesis 6-24×50 FFP riflescope is a decent scope. Parallax and subtensions were calibrated correctly. It tracked 10 Mils, and adjustments were both audible and positive. Illumination was adequate. The only thing I didn’t like about the scope was the lack of edge-to-edge clarity when the scope was adjusted above 18 power. It is not a deal breaker for me, but it is something to be aware of.
Blackhound Optics offers a fully transferable lifetime warranty with all of their optics. The Genesis 6-24×50 FFP riflescope will be available in the first quarter of 2019 and will cost around $400. When James told me the price I was floored. Not to sound like a snob, but the cheapest riflescope in my safe costs around $700, and the Genesis 6-24×50 FFP performed just as well. Is this scope equal to the $2,000+ scopes in my safe? Nope, but not everyone needs a military grade scope that can survive being locked out of a submarine or jumped out of an airplane, nor does everyone need super expensive glass, coatings, Horus/gridded reticles and all the fancy turret mechanisms.
Need a first focal plane scope for hunting? I would take a strong look at this scope. You like shooting out to 1000 yards on the weekend? I would take a look at this scope. Would I use this riflescope? Absolutely. This scope would be right at home on one of my 6.5 Creedmoor hunting rifles. I could also see myself shooting a PRS-style club match with this scope on the weekend.
The Genesis is the first series that Blackhound Optics is releasing. After several hours spent talking with James, I came away with a favorable impression of the company. I think Blackhound Optics has a bright future, and I am anxious to see what they do next.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V23N4 (April 2019)|